Potterton Commercial heats up Grade One listed church in Thaxted


A church dating back to the 14th century is fully prepared for the colder months, with the installation of three Potterton Commercial Sirius boilers and 30 new radiators. Crucially, the heating system upgrade was completed without encroaching on the character or feel of the Grade One listed church.

Thaxted Church is a beautiful, large building, but unfortunately its congregation had started to dwindle due to its ineffective heating system. The church was often left with an ambient temperature of only 8°C in summer and as low as 4-6°C in winter.

The main challenge for the installers, Christopher Dunphy Ecclesiastical Limited, was to design a system that did not have an adverse impact on the interior of this listed building, and ultimately provided an effective source of heat.

The original boiler room at the church was actually underground, meaning an 80 metre gas line was required to effectively create a new boiler room above ground, in the main church. Understandably, to preserve the character of the listed building, the church did not want the boilers to be visible.

Both Potterton Commercial and Christopher Dunphy Ecclesiastical Limited worked closely with the local diocese architect to ensure the system was carefully planned and approved, and impressively completed the project in only six weeks from the very first site visit.  The project team specified three 110kW Sirius WH boilers, 30 new radiators, which were strategically placed around the building, and additional under-pew heaters for extra comfort and warmth. A 'Spirotech' controller was also installed to allow centralised control.

Utilising its experience in the design church heating installations, Christopher Dunphy Ecclesiastical Limited, interestingly chose to locate the new boilers in the Vestry in the centre of the church. As Potterton Commercial's Sirius boilers are so compact, they could be completely concealed within the vestry by using WH (wall hung) cascade frames.

Mick Russell from Christopher Dunphy Ecclesiastical Limited explains: "Potterton Commercial is our first choice for church projects, largely due to the reliability, excellent back-up service & on-site specification we receive from the team. They came out and did a thorough site visit before specifying the perfect solution for the church.”

Thaxted Church also houses one of only two musical organs of their kind in the UK - with the other placed in Westminster Abbey - so particular care was taken to ensure the temperature around the organ was kept at an optimum level, so as to preserve it, by the addition of several TRVs for extra control in this area.
Churchwarden Colin Harrison, from Thaxted Church commented: "We have just come to the end of our first five months using the new system. Being able to efficiently heat the whole building and provide a continuous background temperature for the first time in 500 years has certainly been noticed by our visitors who have been very complimentary of the upgrade, and are enjoying the warmth it has brought! The new system means we can programme the temperature to remain above 10°c at all times.
"Importantly, the skilled team carried out the work with great care. They understood the sensitive needs of a living, working church and took extra care to fit around services, weddings and funerals. The upgrade was delivered within cost and on time.”