Despite being a new group we have made considerable progress in establishing what needs to be done and in deciding how we are going to do it. We have been working with the PCC, the Diocese, local people and the church architect and now know the scope of essential repairs and the approximate amount of money needed to fund it. Probably our most important achievement to date has been to establish All Age services - family focussed events that have something for everyone. So we have attained our primary goal which was to keep the church open as a place of worship. But we cannot be complacent as these are difficult times and things can change. Read on for more information on our current projects.
Project 1. Carry out essential repairs
We have successfully raised more than £45,000 towards essential repairs and to date have completed urgent repairs to the tower, replaced internal flooring and
restored the west door. All VAT costs have been met by the Listed Places of Worship Scheme to whom we are grateful. The next phase of work involves fundraising for a partial new roof, external masonry work and upgrading of rainwater goods. We need to
raise around £130,000 (inclusive of VAT). We had hoped to carry out this work at the end
of this year but Covid-19 has put a stop to that.
Other tasks include sorting out disability access, having the building open to visitors each day and creating an eco-friendly churchyard.
We have been successful in our fundraising activities and are very grateful to the Coastal Recycling Community Fund for awarding £25,000 towards the tower repairs. We are also grateful to the Bideford Bridge Trust for awarding us £1,000, the Devon Historic Churches Trust for awarding us £4,000, the Wolfson Foundation in conjunction with ChurchCare for a grant of £7,000 and an award of £1,500 from Allchurches Trust.
Read the Quinquennial Report for more information on repair work
Project 2 Taking care of our bats
As part of preparation for the repair work, we commissioned a bat survey. This confirmed that we have at least eight species of bats in residence at different time of the year including a breeding colony. Species include Brown long-eared bats, Serotine, Myotis, Common Pipistrelle, Barbastelle, Noctule, Lesser horseshoe and Greater horseshoe bats. The fact that our church is home to such a variety of bats is to be celebrated and we have hosted talks and bat walks in order to let people enjoy and appreciate our nocturnal friends. However, the presence of bats has had implications and we had to delay the repair work to the tower on a number of occasions as we had bats that extended their summer stay. There is currently an ongoing surveillance programme in place. See the bat survey report.
Project 3 Restoring the bells
Most of us would like to hear the bells ringing again and Richard Sears is taking this
project forwards. He has met with the Diocese Consultant on Bells and the Bells and
Belfries Advisor to the Guild of Devon Bellringers along with representatives that restore
church bells. The first thing to say is that the three bells and the wooden casings that
house them are listed and there are strict restrictions on any work
that is carried out. Two of the bells are 'out of tune' and the third
has a crack in it. The work will involve removing the bells by
lowering them down into the church, removing them through the
west door and transportation to a bell foundry in Loughborough. As
the heaviest bell is half a ton this will be a major undertaking. Some
preparatory work has been completed and there is now temporary
(and out of sight) scaffolding installed in the deadening chamber.
See the Bell Survey Report for more information
Project 4 A Graveyard Survey
The graveyard has never been systematically recorded but that is about to change. The survey has now been completed by Richard Sears. Recently, while clearing out the vestry, we found a survey map of the graveyard that was done in 1988 by Mr Staines who lived at the Barton. It is in excellent condition and will form a part of our display. We intend to produce a folder of the headstones that will be kept in the church and the survey is about to be placed on this website and other sites.
Temporary scaffolding being installed in
the deadening chamber beneath the bells