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.


Pews: Removal of original pews 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.

Plant/M&E: 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.  Rebuild of plant rooms to incorporate the new heating systems and associated electrical apparatus.

Floor: Regeneration of church floor achieved by firstly removing the original wooden flooring and then excavating it to a depth of 700mm for a mass concrete insulated floor.  This 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.

Natural limestone flooring was laid throughout in an innovative two-colour design to depict the original seating and walkway layout.  The existing parquet flooring to the plant room and toilets was refurbished – all wooden blocks were removed, cleaned, prepared, reinstated and polished to conservation standards.

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

Drainage: Created for kitchen and WC’s.

WCs: Creation of drainage and construction of two new disabled WC’s and refurbishment of existing WC’s – including full fit-out and decorations.

Kitchen: Installation of handmade oak kitchen; cupboard doors were carved with heraldic crosses and solid oak work surfaces.  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.

Panelling: Major removal of existing wall panelling, which was adapted as entrance doorways and returned to their original position and refixed. In addition, Ryearch removed existing stud panelling, labelled it, reinstated it and then decorated the panelling using traditional conservation materials and limewash.

Plaster work: Renovation by hacking back damp areas 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.

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

Screen: 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 designed by Ryearch and etched by an ecclesiastical artist.

Carpentry: 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.


  • 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 refurbish the organ, undertaken by local Cornwall specialists (works package of c£90,000).
  • Ryearch liaised closely with the associated audio-visual 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.