Saving St Cybi’s stone: protecting a Welsh heritage gem

A Grade I listed church built within the 4th Century walls of Caergybi’s Roman Fort is able to begin urgent repairs to its stonework thanks to grant funding from Allchurches Trust and others.

St Cybi’s Church in Holyhead recently announced it has secured the necessary funds to begin work to preserve its historic stonework. This includes saving important carvings which have been damaged by erosion and pollution.

Some of the issues which have been identified in St Cybi’s fabric include air pollution crusting, which is a hard and dark brittle crust which leaves the stone underneath soft and easily eroded, and alveolar erosion, which is identified as depressions in the stone forming a honeycomb-like appearance. The main cause of this is pockets of salt eroding due to high wind forces.

Paul Playford, Grants officer for Allchurches Trust, said: “The beautiful St Cybi’s Church is not only of major historical significance, it is part of the beating heart of its community. We’re pleased to have been able to award funding to help protect and preserve this heritage gem for generations to come.”

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The project to repair the stonework will be carried out under the care of the Conservation Architect, Elinor Gray-Williams of Donald Insall Associates. She said:

The fabric at St. Cybi’s is so important to safeguard for the future. The stonework to the William Morris window is badly soiled, and the condition of some of the early parapet level carvings are deteriorating badly. This building can tell us so many stories about its past, and there is a real danger we will lose this precious history if we don’t arrest this decay. I’m so glad these grant applications have been successful and the repairs are now moving forward.”

Part of the proposal made is to enclose some of the carvings by altering the South Porch of the church. This will help to protect the stonework from damage for generations after its much needed repairs.

The site on which the church stands has been a place of worship since the 6th Century when St Cybi founded a religious community within the Roman fort. Services are still held in church every Sunday and Wednesday, and the church is available for baptisms, weddings and funerals. The church also hosts other activities such as heritage days, a Field of Remembrance and Remembrance Service and carol services.

Other funding bodies who have helped kick-start the project include the Heritage Lottery Fund, W G Roberts Fund, Garfield Weston Foundation, James Pantyfedwen Foundation and the Representative Body of the Church in Wales.

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