The battle to maintain the historic churches in Kingsclere and Ashford Hill continues in the run-up to Easter – and beyond.
A group was formed in Ashford Hill last July after the vicar, Rev Lucy Thirtle, revealed that an estimated £250,000 was needed to restore the Grade II-listed St Paul’s church.
Rev Thirtle told parishioners that rectifying a damp problem would cost an estimated £50k and that the entire roof of the church, built in 1845, was in very poor order, with another £200k needed to fix problems with the fabric of the spire.
Headley villager Patrick Dring told the Newbury Weekly News this week that a tender had recently gone out to firm up the costs.
He said the mammoth task of fundraising had got off to a good start in January, with the help of the neighbouring independent Cheam School, which staged a sell-out concert at the church which boosted funds by over £2,000.
He said: “It was a great start to the year and our campaign.”
Another six fundraisers are planned over the next few months, with a grant application in the pipeline to the Greenham Common Trust.
He said the group was hoping to obtain a further Government grant to repair the entire roof, as a partial repair would prove a false economy because of the high cost of erecting scaffolding.
Meanwhile organisers said they would be grateful for any fundraising ideas, or offers of help from parishioners.
Mr Dring said: “We are still looking for help from within the parish.”
In Kingsclere, the St Mary’s Keystone Project aims to restore the Grade II-listed St Mary’s Church in the village, also part of Rev Thirtle’s united benefice of Kingsclere and Ashford Hill with Headley.
The project has six phases, with phase one – the installation of new heating with gas boilers – completed and phase two – refurbishment of the Kingsmill room, including repainting, replacement of chairs, new flooring and storage – underway.
Planning is also underway for phase three – a new electrical system, including lighting.
Phase four would see the installation of new toilets, a new flower room and light catering facilities at the west end of the church, while phase five would involve the replacement of the floor and pews in the nave and phase six examines a possible re-opening of the north door, with the addition of a porch.
Donations made to St Mary’s Church Keystone Project at www.findmeagrant.org, will be matchfunded by Greenham Common Trust.
An inspection is carried out every five years at all Church of England buildings by an architect or chartered building surveyor, approved by the diocesan advisory committee.
n A SEDER meal takes place at St Paul’s Church, Ashford Hill, at 6pm on Wednesday, April 1. The re-enactment of the Passover meal will include a dramatisation and traditional food, with the congregation to be joined by Bishop David Williams, of the Winchester Diocese.