In 2003 the picturesque Grade II listed St Mary’s Church in Long Crichel, Dorset was declared redundant. Luckily, in 2010, the church was placed the in care of the Friends of Friendless Churches, whose mission is to save disused places of worship that are of architectural and historical importance, from demolition and decay.

History of St Mary’s Church

The reason this building is of such importance is its medieval tower, flamboyant door surrounds and timber panelled ceilings. Although the church tower dates from the 15th century, the remainder of the church was rebuilt in the 19th century, over a 25-year period and under the supervision of three different architects.

Before worked commenced on St Mary’s

Because of this lengthy rebuild and varying architectural styles, the church has an interesting roof structure with many different styles of wooden trusses. When it came to the restoration of the roof by the team at West Country Tiling, this job comprised of a multidisciplinary approach from our Master Craftsmen.

The church is distinctive, in part due to its ornamental stonework in two different colours. The Chilmark tight grain, almost white stone is in contrast with the beautiful golden Hamstone.  In addition to these crowning glories, the local Shaftesbury green stone has been laid in bands with flint.

St Mary’s Restoration

We commenced this project in January 2021 and hope to complete it by the end of March 2021. The work carried out comprised of:

  • Supplying and fixing all new Spicer handmade clay plain tiles.
  • Extensive oak timber repairs to wall plates and rafters.
  • New cast iron rainwater goods.
  • Casting a new lead hopperhead.
  • Conserving and consolidating the Hamstone eaves course on the South elevation.
  • Renewing the four courses of Welsh slates on the North elevation.
  • Masonry repairs to the Hamstone decorative corbel course.
  • Carving a new Bath stone cross for the Nave.
  • Repairing one of the stone angels inside the Apse.
  • Repairing the masonry around the stain glass windows.
  • Working closely with a stain glass window specialist, who has conserved the glazing.
  • Carving new Hamstone roof ridges to match the existing ones.

Spicer Roof Tiles

When we stripped the roof on St Mary’s church is was clear that the original clay plain tiles couldn’t be salvaged. We sourced the replacements from Spicer Tiles, who we have utilised many times and know they produce a truly excellent handmade clay tile.

We used a mix of the weathered red Hanbury Burmarsh and Honeywell tiles. Each Spicer tile is made using wet, malleable clay and shaped in the mould by hand, giving each tile its own story and character. 

Click here to read about Spicer Tiles used on West Country Tiling roofs in our supplier case study.

Why use West Country Tiling

We are traditional roofers who have operated throughout the South West of England for over 30 years. We provide roofing services from the wallplate up and specialise in ecclesiastical work.

When contracting us, you can rest assured that we’ll create a roof with all the perfect imperfections and individual patina that come from using handmade tiles.

If you have a church roofing project that requires an experienced team, please get in touch on 01373 462 224 or email us on