The Parochial Church Council (PCC), supported by the Gloucester Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC), and historic buildings and environment specialists hope to carry out a bespoke survey to measure the impact of existing flood prevention measures.
They aim to investigate what has worked and come up with novel solutions to help lessen the impact of more extreme flooding in the coming years.
The worst flooding happened in 2007, when the interior of the church and its furnishings were totally destroyed.
The local community took action to reorder and safeguard the building, installing a new organ gallery, and flexible seating which can easily be moved to a higher part of the church. They also had removable flood gates and a sump pump installed and non-return valves fitted to the churchyard wall.
Since these measures have been taken, the floodwaters have been returning ever more frequently, with flooding now an annual event.
DAC Secretary and Fellow of the International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (IIC), Adam Klups said, “While St Michael’s is known to have flooded on many occasions in the past, and flooding along the River Severn is not a new phenomenon, it is without a doubt that the church and its churchyard have been affected more severely and more frequently by flood events in recent years than at any time before.
“The community in Tirley is under no illusion that the floods waters have permanently receded. Yet they do not want to give up on a building that is their place of worship, a heritage and community asset, and a space of cultural activity.
“We felt that considering the positive proactive steps already taken by Tirley’s church community and with the frequency of climate change-related weather events increasing, St Michael’s would be a perfect place to holistically re-examine the measures already in place – test what has worked and what else can be done to mitigate, and in some instances prevent, the future impact of flooding.
“While we are aware that there is much we won’t be able to control, ensuring the church and its congregation are better prepared to face future flood-related challenges is well worth our effort.”
The DAC and Tirley PCC have recently submitted an application to the World Monuments Fund, to include Tirley Church on the 2022 World Monuments Watch, to help spotlight the challenges St Michael’s and other churches are facing due to climate change.