Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Drying Out the Narthex

The narthex (porch) of Saint Ours church, Loches is being spoilt by water ingress, so a black bitumenised membrane has been installed on the roof. This is theoretically a temporary measure until a full restoration of the whole church can be effected.

The traces of moisture on the narthex vault are very visible. They won't go away any time soon, but the membrane should prevent any further infiltrations of water. 'The stones have become porous and it was important to stop the damage', said a spokesman responsible for heritage from the local authority.

 The remarkable 12th century polychrome carved doorway between the narthex and the main body of the church of Saint Ours, Loches.
The work was done in December with agreement from the Bâtiments de France architect and the regional curator from Monuments Historique. The membrane covers the stone roof slabs and ensures they are sealed. The work cost €13 000, entirely paid for by the Ville de Loches (in the interim while they await the outcome of various grant applications). The membrane should allow the roof to dry out and prevent new stains appearing in the entrance to this listed historic building.

 A wider view, looking from the door of the narthex to the door of the church. You can see damp stains by the vault rib on the left.
This technical solution was chosen because it is at the same time durable and easily reversible once a full restoration gets underway. Amongst the other problems which need dealing with are fissures in the bell tower above the transept and water ingress at the base of the dubes, those hollow pyramids which afford the structure such a large part of its unique character. (The extensive green staining on the interior of the dubes will be easily dealt with once the damp problem is solved.) Now the local authority is waiting to do a full conservation report which will highlight the work that needs to be done overall.

 A view of Saint Ours showing the dubes (the pyramidal roofs).
It still remains to find funding for this study (never mind the work that will come after it). The length of time it takes to raise the funds will determine whether or not the membrane is truly a temporary solution, or whether it has to last indefinitely.

Source: La Nouvelle République 11 January 2014.

2 comments:

  1. It's a lovely church - I'm glad they've implemented something to stop the water getting in, "temporary" or other wise, because those stains looked really bad last time I was in there.

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  2. I'm learning such a lot of terms from this post and your architectural term series. I'd never hear of a narthex before.

    All indeed now is the brain capacity to remember, and apply it in the correct context!

    Great info in an illustrated form. Well done.

    I love the church. I always walk up on a Wednesday, after the market. It calms me, even when it is busy.

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