A MAJOR project to replace "hazardous" render on a Lake District church tower has been completed at a cost of £270,000.

Seven years ago, the 90-year-old cement render on St Oswald's Church, Grasmere, began to fall off, creating danger to the public and leaving underlying stonework exposed to the elements.

A long-term solution was essential to prevent serious damage to the Grade 1 listed church, which dates back to 1250 and is the burial place of the celebrated Lakes poet William Wordsworth.

The Diocese of Carlisle, in collaboration with Grasmere's parochial church council, heritage bodies and architects set about deciding the best way forward.

After a detailed study, they chose a scheme which would completely remove the old render from the tower and re-render with lime mortar to ensure protection and "breathability" for the underlying fabric. Repairs to the tower roof, guttering and windows were also included in the project.

The project, which took 30 weeks to complete, was overseen by conservation architects Crosby Granger, of Kendal, led by Chloe Granger, and the work carried out by Burnely-based heritage builders, UK Restoration Services.

Richard Beskeen, chairman of the St Oswald Church's building committee, said: "Now the scaffolding has come down, the tower is revealed in its new found glory. The creamy render looks glorious, particularly in sunlight, and has been admired by locals and visitors alike. And the newly re-gilded clock faces set the tower off perfectly.

"The collaboration between architect and contractor has been exceptional and resulted in a restoration of the highest quality.

"The attention to detail and quality of work have been meticulous. Lime render has been used throughout in accordance with the strictest conservation practice. In spite of encountering difficulties en route, the work has been completed on schedule."

Mr Beskeen added: "This project would not have got off the ground without considerable financial help from the Alene Hackett bequest and The Friends of St Oswald’s. The PCC would also like to thank Church Care (Wolfson Foundation), All Churches Trust, The Headley Trust, Jill Franklin Trust and numerous individuals for their generous grants and donations."

Thirteen staff from UK Restoration and16 members of their families will attend a service to commemorate the newly restored tower at St Oswald’s on December 3, which Mr Beskeen said was "a testament to their genuine attachment to the restoration project".