Slide Leicester Unitarians Great Meeting roof repair ROOF REPAIR FUND

Roof Repair Fund

Our Grade II listed Great Meeting Chapel is under threat from a leaking roof and rusting gutters. Failure to act soon could render the Chapel and its meeting rooms unusable. To protect this unique city centre ‘gem’ and its fascinating history for future generations we are launching an appeal to help towards funding a major repair of the roof at Great Meeting Chapel.

Our target is to raise £20,000 from donations by the congregation and visitors to the chapel, as well as proceeds from special events. Not only that, but we propose also a series of events and activities as part of a Heritage Outreach Programme to involve both the general public and specific interest groups.

We are grateful to National Lottery Heritage and to lottery players for the generous grant of £78,000 towards the repairs and the outreach programme.

Leicester Unitarians Great Meeting drawing

A unique and historic roof structureLeicester’s Unitarian Chapel, a Grade II listed building, was built in 1708, with further building work to enlarge the chapel taking place in 1866. It is one of the most important historic buildings to survive in the city. The age can be see more clearly in the roof space, with the original timbers from over 300 years ago, some still with the carpenter’s markings on many of the mortise and tenon joints.  Some sides of the gabled roof have screens of reeds, probably cut locally during construction.

Photos left show some of the unique features of the chapel roof. Click photos to enlarge then use arrows on left & right of photo for other photos.

What repairs are needed?

  • A flat roof cover to the central well of the roof will obviate the need for the internal drainage system which has been prone to repeated failure.
  • New cast aluminium gutter and drainpipe system.
  • Stabilisation of the areas of ‘at risk’ external cornice.
  • Repair of internal plaster ceiling (this will necessitate temporary internal scaffolding).
  • Repair of decayed windows where necessary.
  • Possible strengthening of roof oak beam after assessment by structural engineers from inside and below via scaffolding tower.
  • Restoration/cleaning of internal monuments.

How much will it cost?

  • Current estimate is £140,000. We hope to be successful with applications to grant awarding bodies. Co-funding from the chapel and its supporters greatly helps with the validity of our applications.
  • We explain below how you can help by making a donation.

These repairs will protect the future of our building for many years to come. Keeping a historic building watertight is the single most important element of conservation and this is what we intend to do.

Butt Close Wall restoration completeFollowing generous grants from Leicester City Council and Historic England, work started on cleaning, restoring and repointing the historic Grade Two listed historic boundary wall. Mortar was analysed to create an exact match and a quantity of like for like bricks obtained from a specialist supplier. Restoration is now complete with excellent results.  Thanks go to the contractors Calibre Conservation.

Photos show jetting of the wall and completed work. Click to enlarge.

Roof Leak repairsA roof leak was causing wet-rot to one of two major oak structural beams and damage to the internal Georgian plaster ceiling. Leaking gutters are damaging the high-level external cornice. The roof leak is now corrected with a roof cap, and work on the internal structure and ceiling is now completed. First, the beam affected by wet rot has been reinforced with a metal plate and the ceiling repaired, replastered where necessary and redecorated. Photos left show leak damage, photos right show work in progress, click to enlarge.

Internal wall memorials cleaning
We were awarded a grant of £4,900 from The Pilgrims Trust. The grant is going towards the expense of cleaning a good selection of our excellent internal wall memorials. We appreciate the help given to us by The Pilgrim Trust and express our sincere thanks. The restoration work of the memorials by Alex Carrington ACR is now complete with excellent results. The memorials are beautifully carved and inscribed and take us on a journey through the chapel’s history.  Click photos to enlarge.

Internal ceiling restoration completedAfter plating of the oak beam from below via a birdcage scaffold, the internal ceiling has been repaired and redecorated with an excellent result. The colour scheme has been chosen to show off the 1796 plaster work to best effect

Photos left show leak damage, photos right show work in progress and completion – click to enlarge.

How to Donate

–  By cash, into the collection bucket at the chapel or give to the minister or any member of the committee.

–  By cheque: payable to Great Meeting Unitarian Chapel, Leicester.

If you have not already done so, and are a taxpayer,
please complete a Gift Aid form, available in the Chapel.