Image, with thanks, by John Nethercott

Louis Hurley award

The Brecon and Radnor branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales has awarded St Michael’s Church and Upper House Discoed its prestigious Louis Hurley architectural award.

St Michael's Church with its famous ancient yew tree has undergone conservation work in recent years and now holds exhibitions and concerts in addition to regular monthly services.

In 2007 the Friends of St Michael’s decided the bell-cote and roof of St Michael’s needed urgent repair. Under the sensitive guidance of architect, Tim Ratcliffe, and with the help of a HLF grant this first phase was completed in 2008. The second phase followed on more or less immediately.

This involved removing the pews which were rotting on their base; installing a ducted heating system; rewiring; fitting a new wooden floor and adjusting the vestry space. The delicate slate shingles were replaced on a repaired frame on the belfry. More recently, with the help of volunteers from Caring for God's Acre repairs to sections of the churchyard wall have been carried out.

From the outset the Friends of the church realised that the expenditure involved could not be justified for just one service a month. For this reason the policy has been to make St Michael’s a venue for all the arts.

Upper House is an exquisite Grade II* listed Radnorshire stone house with a double-jettied timberframed cross wing, overlooking the courtyard formed by its barns and St Michael's Church. The cross wing has been dated to c.1536; the year that Henry VIII enacted the Act of Union between England and Wales. It was bought in 1984 by John and Annie Nethercott who, during the course of their careful and complete restoration, found musket balls, spurs and other evidence that suggested the house may have come under attack during the Civil War. Upper House is situated in a Grade II* courtyard setting and adjoins other old buildings that have also been restored.

Peter Seaman, chairman of the Brecon & Radnor CPRW branch said “This Award is made in memory of local conservation architect Louis Hurley and these buildings at Discoed are the first to be recognised by the Award. We have been most impressed by the sensitivity of the conservation work and then the use to which the church has been put to ensure its future is sustainable. John Nethercott and the Friends of the church are to be congratulated for their fine efforts”

The Award will be presented by the High Sheriff of Powys, Lt. Colonel Mike Lewis (retd.) following a concert at the church next Tuesday 28th April.

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