St Mark’s Church to renovate and conserve historic boundary wall
One of Portobello’s most historic churches can now make essential repairs to allow safe access to its graveyard, in turn allowing it to be better understood, all thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
St Mark’s was one of the first Episcopal churches to be built in the Edinburgh Diocese after the repressions of the Penal Laws that followed the Jacobite risings in the 18th century. The boundary wall around the graveyard in which the church sits, has been in a dangerous state of repair since the exceptional hard winter of 2011, necessitating the closure of the pavement on St Mark’s Place and the shoring up of the leaning walls. Due to the nature of its construction, its age and the memorials placed within, the wall is B-listed. A programme of works will now be undertaken to repair the historic wall, under the guidance of leading conservation architects Simpson and Brown. The work will comprise rebuilding the wall in some areas, and repair and repointing in other areas.
During the restoration work, information will be available to the local community during Open Days to increase understanding of the heritage contained in the graveyard and of the stone work involved in its preservation. Once the wall has been preserved and made safe, the historic graveyard will be once again fully accessible to the community. A full scale survey of all the memorials will be undertaken and information leaflets and interpretation boards produced to enhance understanding of the history of Portobello community. The restored access and safety in the graveyard will facilitate training and ease of access to those researching graveyards and family history.
St Marks is extremely grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), whose generous funding of half the costs of the preservation has joined funds donated by the Dunderdale (Scottish Episcopal Church) Trust, The Pilgrim Trust, and All Churches Trust.
Rev Dr Sophia Marriage, Rector of St Marks said, “We are extremely grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for giving a grant to complete the fundraising from so many other sources, including the congregation and local residents. The wall has been a hazard to the general public and our neighbours have been very patient while as we have worked to raise the funds. This is a wonderful opportunity to make the historic graveyard more accessible once again and provide green space for everyone in the community seeking peace and reflection in the middle of the busy Portobello High Street.”
Colin McLean, Head of HLF Scotland, said: “This is an important project driven by the local community. It demonstrates how our heritage can be a living part of a community bringing people together to learn from and enjoy their shared identity. We are delighted to be giving this very worthwhile venture our full support.”
Small scale, localised excavation will take place as required for the construction of new foundations, some of this will be in areas near burials that butt the wall. All excavations will be completed by trained archaeologists, although it is not anticipated that any burials will be disturbed during the course of the works. Both Edinburgh City Council and The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal’s Service have been notified of the work.
The project will be overseen by Simpson and Brown who are one of the leading conservation practices in the UK. Their design team includes architect, contract administrator, quantity surveyor, structural engineer and archeological services. Over the 35 years of the practice, Simpson & Brown have carried out over 1,500 conservation projects with over 1,000 projects on buildings principally dating from the 19th century and earlier.
The work is due to commence on 25th August and run until the end of September 2015. During this period, sections of the church grounds will be inaccessible and designated for site operations.
About the Heritage Lottery Fund
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. To date it has invested over £500 million in Scotland’s heritage. Website: www.hlf.org.uk