A NEWLY carved gargoyle has been erected at Ringwood Parish Church marking the end of a year of restoration works.

The grade II listed Church of St Peter and St Paul has been the subject of much-needed refurbishment after it was discovered that water was leaking into the building in 2014.

Damage had been caused to much of the 160-year-old vestry walls, which were stained and damp. The guttering was failing and the chancel wall paintings had been spoiled.

However, the listed places of worship roof repair fund provided a grant of £33,600.

Churchwarden Jacqueline Brown said: "The Roof Repair fund has enabled us to tackle long-term repairs to the building which help secure it for generations to come.

"We discovered that the chancel paintings were part of a larger design along with the windows, and are of national significance. We have consulted conservators and we will have to wait several years for the wall to dry fully before we can remove the white over-paint to restore the paintings to their former glory."

The gargoyles on the four corners of Ringwood church tower supported cast iron pipes designed to ensure that water falling onto the roof of the tower is kept away from the walls. Over time these pipes corroded and water fell down onto the tower itself, eroding the masonry.

A specialist firm was called to replace a missing north-west gargoyle and to renew the corroded cast iron outlets. It was carved off-site before being fixed in place.

Arthur Needham, a rock climber and stonemason from Vitruvius, said: "The gargoyle was a challenge on several fronts: we had both to carve it and then to get it into place without a crane. It took several months to find a piece of Bath Stone to match, which had been quarried in the traditional way: when I found one I bought it on the spot.

"My idea was the Roman god Janus, who has two faces. He was associated with gateways and new beginnings – all themes that fit with the location overlooking the bridges over the Avon and of course the restoration. His faces look both ways down the A31.

"Completing a lift like this always requires meticulous planning as there are no second chances. You need the right weather and this is not easy in the winter months. As it was, a missing part in the lifting gear held us up and we only just completed the task before nightfall."