“Rising damp” is the process by which ground water moves vertically and horizontally into building materials like brick, mortar, stone, woodwork and plaster by capillary action and rises in these materials before being evaporated. Over time, rising damp has caused serious damage to Christ Church’s renowned architectural elements: brickwork, stone trim, plaster and interior woodwork.
Previous efforts to mitigate rising damp have not addressed the cause of the rising damp problem: stormwater that accumulates in the churchyard due to insufficient drainage. Instead, work was focused on repairing affected areas by rising damp through masonry repointing and repairs to plaster and stonework. By not tackling the fundamental problem of managing stormwater, rising damp continues unabated, increasingly threatening Christ Church’s unique historic fabric.
Guided by best practices from leading preservationists and scientific studies that have identified the sources, pathways and mechanisms of rising damp at Christ Church, FHCC plans to mitigate the problem through installation of a stormwater drainage and moisture monitoring system. This project is supported by the Save America's Treasures program, through the Historic Preservation Fund, as administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior.
In the fall of 2021, archaeologists began excavations at a low point in the southwest churchyard and along the south walkway (more will follow along the west walkway and northeast yard) to document and recover cultural resources and features in these areas where contractors eventually will install drainage pipes to carry water away from the church and yard. Click here for an update: Archaeology Rising Damp Fall 2021