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 help secure the continuation of both All Age services and Communion services in the church. 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 projects
Project 1. Carry out essential repairs
The church needs a partial new roof, urgent repairs to the tower, external masonry
work, upgrading of rainwater goods and internal floor repairs. We must also sort out
disability access, having the church open to visitors each day and creating an
We need to raise around £200,000 (inclusive of VAT) to complete the work and have had some success in our early forays into fundraising. We have split the work into three phases:
Phase 1 includes the tower work and the internal floor repairs. We have raised the money for this work and hope to complete it in 2019.
Phase 2 consists of putting a new roof on the north aisle, vestry, chancel and the porch, upgrading of rainwater goods and masonry repairs. We anticipate carrying out this work in 2020/21 pending grant awards
Phase 3 involves restoring our three ancient and listed bells. To get these treasures chiming again they must be lowered into the tower base, transported to Loughborough for restoration and then brought back for rehanging. This will be a massive undertaking which we hope will be done in 2021/22
We have had a successful year of fundraising and are very grateful to the Coastal Recycling Community Fund for provisionally awarding £25,000 towards the tower repairs. The work will start on 1st October as we have had to accommodate roosting bats. 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 for which we are most grateful. All VAT will be claimed from the Listed Places of Worship Scheme.
Project 2 Creating a flexible community space
The flooring beneath the four pews at the rear of nave is in need of new joists and the area is currently out of use for health and safety reasons. The floor repairs require the removal of the pews and the Friends and the PCC have now been granted a Faculty (permission) for the pews to be permanently removed. The removal of the pews will allow us to create a flexible open space for the Sunday School, prayer meetings, discussion groups, coffee mornings etc. This work will be carried out in the Autumn.
Read the Quinquennial Report for more information on repair work
Phase 1 work has been completed
Work almost finished
Project 3 Taking care of our bats
As part of preparation for the repair work to the church, we have commissioned a bat survey. This has confirmed that we have bats with a possible breeding colony. Species include Brown long-eared bats, Serotine, Myotis, Common Pipistrelle, Barbastelle, Noctule, Lesser horseshoe and Greater horseshoe. The fact that our church is home to such a variety of bats is to be celebrated and we hosted an entertaining and informative talk in May. However, the presence of bats has implications for any repair work we do and there is currently an ongoing surveillance programme in place. See the bat survey report.
Project 4 Restoring the bells
Most of us would like to hear the three 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 done to them. We are looking at different ways to get them ringing again and this will include restoring the bells. (Two of them are 'out of tune' while the third has a crack in it) The work will involve removing the bells and then transporting them to a bell foundry in Loughborough. As the heaviest bell is half a ton this will be a major undertaking. Discussions are ongoing. See the Bell Survey Report.
Project 5 A Graveyard Survey
The graveyard has never been systematically recorded and we have started to rectify this. In the first instance we are recording the inscriptions and photographing the headstones. We will then produce a folder of the headstones that will be kept in the church and put onto our website. Many of the headstones are covered in very old lichens so great care is needed not to disturb these.