The Holy Trinity Church used Sandtoft's Goxhill plain tiles

Holy Trinity Church

Sandtoft’s handmade Goxhill plain tile has helped to refurbish a complex spire on a Grade II listed church and raise vital funds for the project.

Holy Trinity Church in Hampshire was built in 1852 in an English Gothic style to the design of Ecclesiastical Architects, Edward and William Habershon. Sandtoft’s refurbishment of the church’s spire resulted in the project winning ‘Best Ecclesiastical Clay Roof’ in the Clay Roofing Awards 2008.


The Challenge The church has an unusual clay plain tiled broach spire with lucarnes - small gables to the four sides. Failure of the fixings meant the spire had to be retiled in 1927. Unfortunately, various elements were poorly executed and the hips were inappropriately formed using small bonnets, resulting in virtually no side lap. This resulted in long-term water penetration and the rotting of structural timbers and battens – the tiles were only still in place thanks to their full mortar bedding.


Holy Trinity Church - Goxhill tiles

The timber structure had to be repaired and the spire retiled. Due to the complex shape of the spire, this required careful craftsmanship. As the church is listed and located in a conservation area, it was also essential that the character of the spire was maintained by using handmade clay tiling of the same colour as the original roof.


The Solution Sandtoft’s Goxhill handmade plain tile in Autumn Brown was selected for the project as the colour and style proved an ideal match to the original tiles dating back to the thirties. Sandtoft was also chosen because it was the only manufacturer able to produce the unique large and small hip tiles required to tightly lace with the plain tiling. A cantilever scaffold was erected to protect the roofs below from falling tiles and enable the architects to identify the best design strategy. Measurements were taken and mock ups were produced by Sandtoft to help achieve the most appropriate shapes for the hip tiles.


The spire is in an exposed position, so to prevent the risk of ‘chatter’, the tiles were spot bedded on lime mortar. Every tile was double fixed to tiling battens using copper nails fixed on a high-performance breathable membrane. Hips were secured at least twice with stainless steel screws and washers. As the timber structure had distorted over the years, the tiles were individually double cut to fit. Skyline Roofing (Kingston) resourced the project with experienced roofers that could meet this standard.


To help raise funds for the refurbishment, Sandtoft also arranged for 100 of its Goxhill handmade clay roof tiles to be individually inscribed with the names of parishioners who then purchased these tiles to raise money for the refurbishment The Outcome The complexity of the project has attracted interest from the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB). SPAB sent a group of young architects, building surveyors and structural engineers to visit the church as part of their fieldwork on practical building conservation.


Goxhill tiles are frost-resistant

The group also visited the Sandtoft factory to see the bonnets being made. The quality of the work has been recognised by the Clay Roof Tile Council at its Clay Roofing Awards. Andrew McRae, secretary of the Clay Roof Tile Council said: “The re-roofing of the spire of this pretty church, in a quintessentially English conservation area, is a beautiful and inspiring project.


THis project was not a massive scheme, but entailed some tricky detailing, notably because it is a broach spire with steep gables, and called for a close working relationship between Sandtoft, the architect and roofing contractor. The work also had a lovely finishing touch – church vicar, the Rev Rosemary Donald, laid her own specially crafted tile to mark the end of the repairs.”



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