ST MARY’S Church in Warwick is closing in on its £1.4million target for repairs to its crumbling tower, thanks to two more sizeable donations.
The National Churches Trust has stumped up £20,000 and the Wolfson Foundation has donated £10,000 towards the church tower appeal. This will be added to the grand total of £900,00 already raised to complete urgent repairs to the tower, which has led to the church being declared an unsafe building by Warwick District Council.
The cash will be used for repairs including repointing, pointing, repairing and replacing the eroded stonework of the tower.
Work can begin on the tower once 85 per cent of the cash required is raised, And parishioners hope this will be soon so that the protective scaffolding can be taken down in time for the church’s 900th anniversary next year.
St Mary’s landmark tower, which is over 130 foot high, was destroyed in the Great Fire of Warwick in 1694 and rebuilt in 1704. Its design was supervised by Sir Christopher Wren. Visible from every direction, for centuries it has been the focal point for travellers as they approach Warwick.
John Luxton who is the church warden overseeing the project, said: “We are thrilled to have the support of the National Churches Trust and the Wolfson Foundation. Their generosity helps us towards securing the £1.4million total we need in order to repair and restore the tower for future generations. St Mary’s tower is a vital link to our heritage and an iconic part of the town’s skyline. This grant will help us make the tower safe again and encourage more people to visit Warwick’s church treasures.”
The church tower appeal has attracted the attention of a number of celebrities including actor Dame Judi Dench who said “the place is very dear to me”.
While broadcaster and journalist Huw Edwards, who is also Vice-President of the National Churches Trust, said he was delighted St Mary’s church was being helped with funding for the urgent tower repairs.
He continued: “This will safeguard unique local heritage and keep the church open and in use for the benefit of local people.
“Whether seeking quiet reflection, access to community services or a place to worship, the National Churches Trust helps hundreds of churches each year and with the support of local people keeps them thriving today, and tomorrow.”
Paul Ramsbottom, chief executive of the Wolfson Foundation, added: “As well as being places of worship and buildings of beauty, churches sit at the heart of the community. In many ways they stand between the past and present. We are thrilled to continue our partnership with the National Churches Trust to support the preservation of these significant, much-loved historic buildings across the UK.”