THE SCAFFOLDING is coming down at St Mary’s Church in Warwick as a £1.4million restoration nears completion.
But the church tower team warned the church’s coffers were now empty.
A fundraising drive was launched in 2021 for repairs to the church’s landmark medieval tower to prevent its closure.
The urgent need for the repairs became apparent after a large piece of masonry fell from the 300 plus year-old tower into the street.
Scaffolding went up at the beginning of 2023 and conservation specialists have been repairing the stonework, windows, turrets and heraldic shields.
The scaffolding will be coming down progressively until the end of February and roads around the church – including Northgate Street, Church Street and Old Square – will be closed during that time for safety reasons.
John Edwards, chair of St Mary’s Church Tower Team, clarified in the latest church newsletter the works were progressing on time and all would be completed by the end of this year, but he warned the church was now out of cash.
He said: “In terms of work, the good news is that everything is still on time, the cost targets for phases one and two are holding and, after very careful analysis of the church accounts, we can complete all the tower works in 2024.
“In the September update, I said we would have to defer the phase three east face clock and related building works due to a lack of funds. Now, the project pool has agreed to underwrite any costs.
“We are grateful for this undertaking but, to put everything into perspective, at the end of March the church will have nothing left in the building’s capital account, having liquidated all its investments. This is not quite rock bottom but near enough.”
The final phase of work to the east face clock will commence in April.
The church tower appeal attracted the attention of a number of celebrities including actor Dame Judi Dench who said “the place is very dear to me”.
Funding has included a £250,000 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, as well as contributions from individual donors, local authorities, Warwick town and district councils and St Mary’s itself.
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.