Grant work completed – Our Lady Seaton Delaval
The Church of Our Lady is a Grade I listed church of national importance, dating from at least the early 12th century. Originally a private chapel for the Delaval family at neighbouring Seaton Delaval Hall, it became the Parish Church of Delaval in 1891. After celebrating its 900th birthday in 2002 it continued its long life of worship right up until 2014 when investigation of the roof voids discovered severe separation cracks between the walls and Norman barrel vaulted ceilings.
Movement in walls and arches had been carefully monitored since 1998 but the discovery of these cracks together with cracking of the centre stone in the east arch brought about temporary closure of the church.
As part of recent exploratory work the Northumbria Historic Churches Trust was delighted to have been able to help the Church of Our Lady with a grant of £4,000 towards the cost of installation of an extensometer. This special measuring equipment is designed to monitor movement in underground strata close to coal mine workings which were dug at three levels right up to the north walls of the church during the mid 20thC.
Investment in this equipment means measurements can be taken over a long period of time enabling a pattern of movement to be observed and recorded. Currently, excessive movement in the strata has not been detected which has increased the confidence of structural engineers that damage to the church is more likely to be as a result of a faulty Victorian drainage system.
By eliminating mine workings as a prime cause of structural movement it is possible to proceed with repairs to the roof and rainwater goods, replacement of the drainage system and soak-away and the installation of steel ties to secure roof beams to walls to add support at the east end of the church. A further programme of underpinning and grouting of the foundations together with the insertion of steel ties into walls and arches will be implemented if needed.
Once structural stability is achieved Our Lady will be reopened for worship, and visitors will once again be able to enjoy the simple beauty of this gem of Norman architecture.