Three churches saved

So far this year, we have taken three closed churches into our care. They were no longer needed for worship. Two were set to be demolished.

We believe this country’s places of worship are the spiritual and artistic investment of generations, and that they should survive. We protect these places for their historic and architectural importance, for the benefit of future generations, and we work with local communities to champion and celebrate their ecclesiastical heritage.

We work on a shoestring. We put everything into saving, repairing, and opening up places of worship. It’s your membership and donations that enables us to do this – so, thank you! *You* saved these churches!

(If you’re not a member, you could become one by clicking here.)

The churches we’ve saved in 2020 are:

St Helen's, Barmby-on-the-Marsh, Yorkshire (photo above) closed in 2007. The Diocese spent seven years in pursuit of a new use for St Helen's but, by 2014, pronounced the search exhausted. Demolition seemed like the only answer.

Access was complicated, the churchyard was still open for burials, the building was in poor condition: it’s easy to see why this decision was reached.

The church is Grade II listed. The earliest record of a chapel on this site dates to 1388, when the archdeacon issued a licence for a new chapel at Barmby. In 1489, the inhabitants petitioned at Rome for a grander church. This was granted. Only the large nave survives from this date. The medieval tower with timber spire was ruinous by 1773, and was dismantled, rebuilt in red brick and topped with a copper cupola. It is likely that the porches were added at this date. The chancel seems to have been added only in the 19th century, when the church was restored in 1854 by Thomas Clarke.

In 2019, we held a public consultation and were astonished by the number of people who came, and who wanted to see the church restored.

The repair issues are structural: the removal of the tie-beam in the nave caused the roof to spread, and the partial collapse of the south porch since closure. We are undertaking planning repairs now. It will be a long road, but we are delighted that we could save this church from the wrecking ball.

Like St Helen’s, St Lawrence’s, Hutton Bonville, NR of Yorkshire (photo above) also closed in 2007. It has lain empty since then. St Lawrence’s is a small medieval church that was much altered in the 18th and 19th centuries.

In this location, the church really only makes sense in relation to Hutton Bonville Hall, which was demolished in 1962. The only physical neighbour this church now has are Hall’s two abandoned 18th-century gate piers, swathed in nettles and cow parsley.

There’s a lot of work to be done before we can open this church to visitors. From next spring, we will address the structural issues, repair the interior and welcome people back inside after many, many years.

Leaving Yorkshire, we head to Monmouthshire, where we have adopted St Cadoc’s, Llangattock Vibon Avel – the church in which we held last year’s AGM

The medieval church comprises a tower, nave and chancel. The church was lavishly restored in 1866 by Messrs Cox & Son at the expense of John Etherington Rolls of The Hendre. In 1875, with T.H. Wyatt (1807-80) as the architect, the north aisle was added, the chancel extended, a porch and organ chamber added, and the interior remodelled.

St Cadoc’s possesses stained glass by three Victorian makers at their very best. The east window (1875) is by Lavers & Barraud, the chancel windows (1866) are by Heaton, Butler & Bayne, and the west window in the nave (1879) is an early work by C. E. Kempe. Other Kempe work (1884) can be found in the Rolls Chapel. There is also a south nave window (1914) by Powells of Whitefriars.

Buried in the churchyard is the Hon. Charles Stewart Rolls, pioneer aviator, who died 1910 in a flying accident, the first British aircraft fatality. It was C. S. Rolls that co-founded the Rolls-Royce firm.

Repairs are needed to all three of these churches, but we are optimistic that we will be able welcome people back into these important buildings next summer.