The development of a large crack in the wall of the flag tower at the corner of the Pemberton Chapel in the St. Mary’s Church, has necessitated the calling in, in haste, of builders to prevent further damage.
The crack does not spell so much the risk of personal danger as the likelihood of damage to the beautiful fifteenth century stained glass windows in the north end of the chapel. The weakness was not detected until a few days ago, and steps were taken on Wednesday to bolster up the tower. Wooden props have now been fixed until further examination reveals the root of the trouble.
The reason at present advanced is that the continued dry weather has caused the foundations to settle down, thus imposing undue strain on the walls. Added to this is the extreme age of the mortar the church was built over 600 years ago and the deleterious effect that hot, dry weather is bound to have on masonry. A hitherto unsuspected source of water under the church probably had much to do with keeping the earth moist; but when the heating apparatus was installed within recent times water was drained away. It is thought that the consequent drying of the earth might have caused some instability in the foundations. The water running from the spring can still be heard from the heating chamber beneath the church.
That efforts should be made to preserve the condition of the church needs little emphasis, for the church is one of the few outstanding reminders of Rushden’s earliest history. As a church it claims many features of historic value and interest, and it is an asset which any town might well be proud to claim.
Although the danger is not yet imminent, it was deemed only wise that precautionary measures should be taken immediately.