Mike Smith, Fabric Officer, PCC Secretary and Treasurer explains more:
“Wednesday 5 July marked the day when the restored stained-glass window was re-installed in the tower. This followed on from the extensive repairs to the tower walls, foundations and drainage which started back in March 2021!
Concerns about the tower had been expressed in the early 21st century. Marked deterioration in the tower structure was recorded in subsequent quinquennial inspections, but our applications for funding in 2016 and 2017 were unsuccessful.
In 2020, with special thanks to Historic England for their generous donation from their Emergency Fund, and many other charities and organisations who supported us financially and not forgetting fundraising by villagers themselves, we raised the £442,000 needed and the work began.
It is a very proud time and an historic one. The repairs to the tower of St Mary’s church and the restoration of the west window in the tower have been a combined labour of love for me.
Like most visitors to St Marys, I was taken aback at the beauty of the interior and the heritage. No wonder Church Care nominated St Marys in the top 100 churches for its treasures. The tiled walls of the nave, the stained-glass windows throughout the church, the enormous east window, the recently restored tower window with medieval sections, the magnificent Victorian windpipe organ, and the amazing historical rood screens. So much to marvel at.
When the church needed financial help to save the tower from collapse, I did not hesitate. In 2016 little did I know what kind of journey, I and those dear to me, would endure. Two failed applications for funding did hit my confidence, but I took on board the weaknesses in my submissions.
Improving my history of the village and the church helped immensely. I even authored a short book about the village!
Working with Historic England was challenging and rewarding. They quickly realised that the tower of our church was at severe risk of collapse. As a result, they became the lead sponsor and a very generous one. Others followed. The architect, the structural engineer, and the contractors were all part of a large team who pulled together to make it all happen.,
Now that the tower is complete with a restored west window, we can enjoy the church again as a place of worship and a building fit for all the community.
What have I learned?
- Having a background in the industry helped
- Being competent with technology was invaluable
- Having a head for figures
- Written communication skills
- To be resolute and determined
- Need the ability to communicate and engage with people at all levels for support
- To be willing to praise and criticise in equal measures
- To encourage the locals to support the repairs and save a building of historical importance”
If your church/PCC is planning a project or is faced with urgent repair work and you would like support, please contact Frances Jackson, Historic Church Building Support Officer, or a member of the Care of Church Buildings team.