Nave Ceiling

The whole of the nave ceiling is being replaced with new lath and plaster panels.

The diagram below shows how this is done.  Lime plaster is applied in three or more layers to "laths" - thin strips of wood - attached to the ceiling joists.  The hand-riven chestnut laths have a rough surface which improves the adhesion of the plaster.  More importantly, when the first, render layer is applied, much of the plaster is forced through the gaps between the laths where it spills over to form "keys" or "snots", which hold the plaster up when they harden.  When Islington was bombed during WW2, the vibrations often fractured the snots, weakening the lath and plaster ceilings in our houses, some of which then sagged and eventually collapsed many years later (I speak from experience!).


lath plaster


The first layer of plaster usually contains horse hair for extra strength.  After the first two layers are applied, they are scored then left to dry out, to provide a secure key for the next layer.  This can be seen in the photos below.

LathsScored Plaster 1













Here's a picture spanning the whole width of the nave roof showing work in progress.

Nave Ceiling



Meanwhile, as a separate activity, we've been tidying up the churchyard and planting seeds on the South side.  As previously explained, there is a limit to what can be done at this stage since parts of the garden will need to be dug up again soon for drainage and other infrastructure works.  But we've mowed the grass and planted a lot of wildflower seeds - a "woodland mix" in the more shady areas such as up against the church itself and against the garden walls, and a "cornfield mix" everywhere else.  Hopefully this will result in a riot of colour in the summer!  Jo Murray also donated a number of other types of seed.  And some roses and other climbers have been planted at the edges of the churchyard to grow up the railings.  Here's a plan of the planting scheme for those of us eager to see what grows where in the months to come!

Planting Plan South April 2021


Update: early May

Several neighbours have kindly donated plants to the garden.  Jo from Barnsbury Street has added five more geraniums to her previous contributions.  Josie-Anne from the Square has given us a Marguerite and three Agapanthus.  And Louise from Cloudesley Street has contributed two large yew bushes which we've transplanted either side of the South gate; these had rather sparse roots so it's not certain they will survive, but if they do they will be a fine addition to the churchyard!  

Meanwhile, a profusion of green shoots are pushing up in all the areas above where wildflower seeds were sown.  Of course these could all be weeds - it's too early to tell - but hopefully they will burst into bloom in the not too distant future.  All the climbers seem to be thriving apart from the "Pink Perpetue" rose which was dug up, probably by a fox, and now looks rather poorly.  And of course the pre-existing bluebells and alkanet have been magnificent over the past month (alkanet, related to comfrey, is usually regarded as a weed, but I love its blue flowers).


Finally, it's taken a long time to get it into place, but the new stone cross over the South porch is a joy to behold:

New Cross 1

New Cross 2

Danny Cross