The Underpinning of St Edmunds Church is complete


The parochial church council is pleased to announce that the work to stabilise the east wall of the chancel was completed just before Christmas, bringing a much welcomed closure to a threat that has been hanging over the church for 6 years.

It was late 2014 when concerns were aroused that old cracks were widening and new cracks appearing between the east chancel wall and the remainder of the building. This was a blow to the euphoria of the completion of the renewal of the north roof only a year before which had stopped years of a leaking roof. Advice was sought from the Diocesan architect and a structural engineer and for the next 3 years the movement was monitored to assess the nature of the problem.

In 2018 a long hot summer drying the clay subsoil accelerated the movement to four times the rate of movement of the previous three years, the cracks widened to up to 3 inches and the PCC were advised that underpinning was necessary to stop the movement which otherwise would lead to the collapse of the wall. It has been a race against time to get this essential remedial work done before structural failure threatened closure of the church.

Over the past 15 months underpinning, drainage improvement, restitching of the cracks, resizing one window, repair of the Georgian prayer boards and redecoration of the chancel have been completed at a total cost in the order of £55000.

It has been a major challenge to raise the money to cover these unexpected costs but 18 months of fundraising brought support from the Listed Places of Worship Scheme, Suffolk Historic Churches Trust, our local Hargrave Charity founded 300 years ago, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Allchurches Trust, The Lord Belstead Charitable Trust, Havebury Housing Partnership, Scarfe Charitable Trust, The Alfred Williams Charitable Trust, The Garfield Weston Foundation, the Wolfson Foundation and the Taylor Review Pilot (a Government sponsored initiative).

It is notable that over the past 10 years, the PCC has raised around £150000 to attend to the repair of this grade 2* listed medieval building, with about 30% of this money raised through fundraising within our community. Thank you all for supporting our events and appeals.

The photos below show “before and after” pictures of what has been achieved.

St Edmunds Hargrave - Before and After Photographs of the Underpinning Project, November 20







A window had to be resized to fit the altered frame shape.
The East chancel wall moved by up to 3 inches from the rest of the church. On excavation, it was discovered that there was no foundation under the buttresses.


A previously unknown brick vaulted tomb was unearthed under the East chancel wall, requiring a foundation redesign during the works.

Examination of the cracks revealed that major settlement had occurred previously but been poorly repaired with loose rubble fill plastered over, removing any bonding of wall sections.

Extensive improvements to drainage were undertaken to remove one cause of the structural failure.


Picture left - significant distortion occurred to the south chancel window.

Peter Reddick
November 2020