Restoring St. Mary's Stonework

St. Mary's Stonework Repair Logo

An introduction from the Vicar

Just over a year ago I first spotted the tower of St. Mary’s Church building as I travelled along the A21. I had never heard of Lamberhurst and was slightly puzzled to see a beautiful old church sitting so close to the road. From that first sighting, I looked up the church website and twelve months later find myself as Vicar of Lamberhurst and writing this leaflet about the urgent repairs needed to the stonework.

In January 2017, a small group of church members held a meeting with the appointed architect and were surprised to learn that the church building was decaying at an accelerated rate. At a subsequent meeting in April the stonework was again inspected and the situation has now been declared urgent. There are three main areas to focus our repair work: the chancel, tower and porch.

The church building is a beautiful and ancient site where church members, local people and tourists gather for its beauty, serenity and sense of God’s presence. In the 1960s the situation was even more dire and the church faced redundancy but local people rallied and a major building project was successfully achieved. Under the leadership of a previous incumbent the interior was imaginatively reordered and we are blessed to inherit such a remarkable place.

With a minimum anticipated spend of £375,000 the situation is critical therefore we are now launching Restore St. Mary’s. The PCC has examined the outline of what needs to happen and empowered a small group to take this work forward. The church architect has advised on the scale of work needed and the likely timescales for the restoration.

With some urgency, we are now able to share the scope of Restore St. Mary’s and I hope you will consider supporting this major work.

Reverend Andrew Axon

Vicar of Lamberhurst & Matfield

 

Three main areas for repair

As a worst-case scenario, the decay in the Chancel (the east end of the church) could cause some of the stone walls to collapse within a year. Left untreated the collapse of stonework would cause immeasurable damage with further expensive repairs needed to the roof or stained glass. This is the major focus of the project and has an estimated cost of repair is £250,000. It is likely that additional works will prove necessary as the building works are underway.

St. Mary's PorchThe porch has begun to twist away from the main church building and the support for the exterior walls has deteriorated. Whilst not quite a health and safety concern at present, the front wall could fall out from the church if left unaddressed with other damage to the porch. The estimated cost of repair is £25,000.

The church tower needs some repair at the very top. Damage and decay through wind and rain has left some of the heavier stones loose and any movement will further erode the stonework. The estimated cost of repair is £100,000.

How can you help?

Please pray for the project and for those who will oversee the planning, fundraising, and then the actual delivery of the building programme.

Maybe you could volunteer your time and talents to join the small group that are steering this project. There are lots of things still to be done and your abilities may be perfect for the tasks that are outstanding,

You could fundraise for the project by hosting a party, doing a sponsored event or some other creative pursuit. As a Church community, we will need to raise a lot of the money needed, we are seeking grants but these usually need to be matched funded.

We are hoping that some church members and village residents will feel inspired to give generously to the building project. St. Mary’s is a significant part of the local community and an important place for church members. Your gift could sustain the church building for the next generations to enjoy. Gifts towards the project should be sent [either cash or cheque payable to ‘Lamberhurst PCC’] to The Parish Office, High Street, Lamberhurst, TN3 8EB.  Donations can also be made via direct bank transfer to: 

NatWest Tunbridge Wells, sort code 55-70-13,

account name Lamberhurst PCC, account No. 71698906.

Gift Aid forms are available from the Parish Office.

In the coming months, we will update on progress made at worship and in the Lamberhurst Magazine and Parish Newsletter. Please get involved with the project in whatever way you can and support the stonework repair.

The Vicar and PCC are already beginning work to discern a future vision plan for the life of our church. Soon, we will be consulting church members and the local community as we establish that plan.

I will repair its damaged walls.
From the ruins I will rebuild it
    and restore its former glory.

 Amos 9:11


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