St Martin's Parish Church, Liskeard

Ryearch’s specialist heritage team was appointed to undertake an extensive refurbishment of the second largest church in Cornwall, a grade II* listed building which mainly dates from the fifteenth century.  The scheme completely Re-Ordered the whole church (excepting the Lady Chapel), with the installation of a new creche, friendship area, disabled toilets, kitchen and office.  The team also installed underfloor heating and ductwork for new audio-visual (AV) systems.


Removal of original pews and wooden flooring to the main body of the church.  Some pews were of outstanding architectural value (particularly those of carved teak) and were carefully dismantled, remodelled/adapted and reinstalled on the north wall.  From the surplus original pews, the best were used to make cupboard units and work surfaces in the friendship area, using specialist joinery skills.

Demolition of existing plant rooms, removal of redundant M&E systems, toilets and offices.  Extensive amounts of asbestos was removed from these areas, using a specialist asbestos removal company.

Regeneration of church floor – the main body of the church floor was excavated (down to a depth of 700mm) for a mass concrete insulated floor which comprised the following layers: Hardcore; Damp proof membrane; Structural slab; Insulation; Underfloor heating system; Specialist screed.  Within the floor structure the team incorporated a network of underfloor ducting systems to facilitate the new AV systems.

Completion of flooring finishes.  Natural limestone flooring was laid throughout the Parish Church, in a clever two-colour design to depict the original seating and walkway layout.  Refurbishment of existing parquet flooring to the plant room and toilets – the wooden blocks were removed, cleaned, prepared, reinstated and polished to conservation standards.

Rebuild of plant rooms to incorporate the new heating systems and associated electrical apparatus.

Creation of drainage for kitchen and WC’s.

Construction of two new disabled WC’s and refurbishment of existing WC’s – including full fit-out and decorations.

Installation of handmade oak kitchen – cupboard doors were carved with heraldic crosses and the work surfaces were also solid oak.  The design incorporated Franke stainless steel washing systems, a Quooker instantaneous hot water tap, concealed ceramic hobs, a high-quality German dishwasher and an undercounter fridge.  All the underfloor manifold systems were built into twin kitchen cabinets, which incorporated a servery over the top.  This design allowed access to the system to check the pressure etc of the heating pipes.

Major removal of existing wall panelling, which was adapted as entrance doorways and returned to their original position and refixed.

Renovation of plaster work.  All damp areas were hacked back to bare stone and lime plastered.  Some areas received lathe and plaster, others horsehair plaster.  Renovation was carried out by Ryearch’s in-house heritage plastering specialists, who are qualified in these specific skills.

Extensive lead, slate roofing and major repairs to decayed timbers within the roof structure, above the new plant room, office and WC’s.

Below the roof, Ryearch removed existing stud panelling, labelled it, reinstated it and then decorated the panelling using traditional conservation materials and limewash.

Installation of a suspended underfloor heated area in the war memorial chapel, to level the communion route, which was subsequently laid with Wilton carpets.

A frameless glass screen was installed at the end of the war memorial chapel, as a dividing screen between the chapel and main body of church.  This was Ryearch contractor designed and etched by an ecclesiastical artist.

Creation and fitting of purpose made wooden furniture to the office, creche, choir and vicar vestries, all in keeping with the age of the church.


The excavations were under the direction of an archaeologist, and a number of loose bones were subsequently rededicated.

Ryearch carefully protected the Lady Chapel and organ whilst the refurbishment was carried out.

After the church was handed back for worship, major works were carried out to totally refurbish the organ, undertaken by local Cornwall specialists (works package of c£90,000).

Ryearch liaised closely with the associated AV specialists to enable their works to take place at the right stage of the Programme.  We gave them access to the site within the construction period to carry out the first phase of works (works package of c£40,000)

The project was funded by various bodies, with the primary source being the Heritage Lottery Fund.