Let There be Light!

Stella provide rooflights for St Marys Church in Wivenhoe Transformation Project

St Mary's Church, Wivenhoe

St Mary’s church in Wivenhoe has been in existence since at least 1254. The North and South aisles of the church were built in 1340 and 1350, making St Mary’s the oldest building still standing in Wivenhoe and clearly of significant local and national historical importance.

The church tower was added in the 15th century with diagonal buttresses and a foundation of Roman brick. After a fire in 1850 it was decided to rebuild and enlarge the church according to the designs of the architect E C Hakewill. Further restoration was required after the parts of the church were damaged by the most destructive earthquake in recorded British history: the 1884 Colchester Earthquake.

A High Quality Transformation Project

The latest development in the building’s fascinating history comes in the form of a much more modern addition. After almost a decade of careful consideration and planning, the church has recently completed its Transformation Project. The project included the construction of an annexe extension on the South side of the church, providing a 45-seat room with French doors opening onto the grassed churchyard; modern toilet facilities and a small kitchen.

The design, undertaken by Colchester based Architects, Inkpen Downie, allows the annexe to be used independently from the Church, with its own entrance and new hallway. The Annexe was designed to be different to the old church building yet maintaining close links with it, through its corners of dressed stone. Only the highest quality materials were used in its construction, including three stunning conservation rooflights from Stella.

Credit for the works is largely owed to the specialist conservation and renovation building contractors, Bakers of Danbury. Widely known for their expertise on historic and listed properties with other projects including works to Westminster Abbey, The Charterhouse in London, Westminster Cathedral and St Pauls Cathedral amongst many other projects.

High Quality Stainless Steel Rooflights

Bakers commissioned Stella Rooflight to manufacture three bespoke conservation rooflights – two larger (1220mm x 1480mm) electrically opening units for the main annexe building and one smaller (1220mm x 865mm) electrically opening for the new entrance hallway.

All three rooflights were manufactured using marine grade 316 stainless steel and finished with a high grade C5 marine powder coating. This was an important factor given the church’s close proximity to the mouth of the River Colne and the English Channel.

High Performance Glazing

The rooflights also incorporated high specification toughened Bio-clean Natura self clean and solar control glazing and were finished internally with a quality American Ash solid wood liner. Stella also provided Bakers with pre formed lead flashing kits, bespoke made to the slate roofing in which they were installed.

Historic England, Planners and Conservation Officers who have been involved with the design of the annexe have been impressed with how the new modern structure blends seamlessly with the old historic building to which it is adjoined.


“We are delighted with our new rooflights. They look great and sit unobtrusively within the roof structure and provide light and ventilation. The automatic operation and the rain sensor make them really quick and simple to use."

Douglas McCormick, Church Warden.

​“We are really pleased with the end result and how the rooflights visually complement the overall design. This was a sensitive project, therefore a considered approach was needed and we think that the Stella rooflights help to achieve that."

Ben Downie, Architect.