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Blackfriars, Oxford - Emergency Repairs to our Church

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Grade II listed church at Blackfriars serves over 600 people across 5 weekend Masses, including the Polish community. Unfortunately, the church is not currently usable due to a fall of plaster from the ceiling. Investigation has shown it to be unsafe for worshippers. Masses are taking place in the priory's refectory until it is safe to use the church.

What was the cause?

An examination of the fallen plaster revealed that the original work was not done to a high enough standard, meaning that the plasterwork is now crumbly. It is also apparent that the building has shifted slightly, causing the spreading of joints and some cracks in the ceiling’s structure. Partly this may be due to an inadequately supported external buttress in the front quad, discovered during the recent works there.

Making the church safe

The Dominican community has consulted with an architect and identified the best solution for both the safety of worshippers and the long-term stability of the building. This will involve:

  • The erection of a ‘bird cage’ scaffolding inside the church. This should allow worshippers to return safely to the church, protected by a canopy from the works to be carried out on the ceiling during the last quarter of 2015.
  • Repairs to the ceiling woodwork and the collapsed panel.
  • Repointing of the external buttress to fill gaps in the mortar.
  • Reinforcing the whole church ceiling with 160 panels, to be secured over the original plaster panels and to sit within the wooden framework. The finished ceiling will appear virtually the same but will make the building safe for years to come.

It is estimated that the works will cost £100,000 - £150,000. We will therefore need to fundraise a substantial amount for the Blackfriars priory fabric fund during 2015. 

How to help

  • If you feel able to offer advice or assistance, please contact the Prior, Fr John O’Connor
  • You can also donate online using the form below. 
    If you have any difficulty using the form, please contact us.


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