St Mary’s Church has received a confirmed grant of £290,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for its tower restoration project. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the project aims to make essential repairs to the historic church tower, which is on English Heritage’s ‘At Risk Register’, and preserve it as a focus of village life and a place of great beauty for future generations.
The contractor Stone Edge has started to rebuild the badly damaged eastern parapet, relead the parapet gutters, replace gargoyles, repair the belfry louvres, repair the carved frieze and redecorate the clock faces. An educational programme is running to coincide with the work including children from the nearby Christopher Rawlins Church of England Primary School designing replacement gargoyles and a village talk by the architect about the restoration work being done on the tower.
The £400,000 needed for restoration is largely funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Friends of St Mary’s Adderbury (FOSMA) is raising funds with Jazz in the Garden, Christmas Tree Festival, Chris Lesley concert and other community events. Those who were sponsored to take part in Ride and Stride also raised money for the tower restoration. Grants were also received from the Oxford Historic Church Trust, Church Care, Society of Antiquaries, Adderbury Parish Council, Adderbury Education and Banbury Charities.
The tower, with its distinctive clock faces and tall octagonal spire, has been a focal point for the village community since it was added as part of the 14th century rebuilding of the church and reaches 150 feet into the sky visible for miles around. The church has an active congregation that does much for the community and the building is used for services, weddings, christening, funerals, bell-ringing and choral activities as well as school and village events including concerts, markets and festivals benefiting the village and wider community. St. Mary’s is home to the Adderbury Ensemble.
Commenting on the award, the Vicar of St Mary’s Church Adderbury, Rev Stephen Fletcher said: “We are delighted that we have received this support thanks to National Lottery players. The tower with its spire has been a focal point for the community since it was built 700 years ago. The restoration work will ensure the tower is no longer at risk and preserved for generations to come.”
Stone Edge Operations Director, Keith Learoyd, said: “The team is delighted to be carrying out the works at this fascinating medieval church. It’s a privilege to be working in such a historic setting, surrounded by the wonderful carvings.”
Further information will follow in Contact and there will be updates in the church and on the website www.adderbury-stmarys.com as well as on social media @adderburychurch #adderburychurchtower. If you would like to contribute to the cost of restoration then please contact FOSMA who will welcome donations. For details of future fundraising events, please visit their website www.fosmaadderbury.weebly.com.
The restoration work uses lime mortar which takes time to dry and cure which has made it necessary to stop bell ringing from 25 June until the work finishes in December. A Quarter Peal will be rung after the service on Sunday 24 June to mark the beginning of the cessation. The carillon is sounded by hammers so continues to operate.
Photograph copyright George Sainsbury.