Clapham church needs help with £16,500 repair bill

People are being asked to help a church raise £16,500 to pay for urgent stonework repairs.

Saturday, 8th May 2021, 3:45 pm
People have been urged to support fundraising for St Mary the Virgin Church in Clapham, near Worthing

Maggie Somerset joint churchwarden at St Mary the Virgin Church in Clapham, has been working at the church for eight months and has seen how badly the stonework needs repairing.

An inspection report in 2017 highlighted the stonework around the doors, windows, and columns was in a bad state of repair.

The repairs should have been completed within three years of the report – but the coronavirus pandemic put everything on hold and the stonework is now in desperate need of attention.

People have been urged to support fundraising for St Mary the Virgin Church in Clapham, near Worthing

The total amount the church needs is approximately £16,500, but the aim is to raise £5,000 from the support of the local community. Maggie expressed her concerns about the state of the church and said that if the repairs did not take place, the ‘beautiful stained-glass window’ would be at risk of falling out.

Maggie said: “It is very important that we do care for the heritage of these historic buildings. Unless there are people who are prepared to support us, ultimately the buildings would crumble into ruins.”

St Mary the Virgin Church has been in Maggie’s life for many years. She was Christened there, married there, and her grandfather also worked there as a joint churchwarden. “I feel like I’m carrying on my family tradition within the church, and it would give me great peace of mind if we could keep the church up to a good standard, I would be delighted,” she said.

“People have been worshipping at this historic, Grade-1 listed church for around 900 years, St Mary the Virgin dates back to the 12th century. It would be nice to think that we could possibly maintain this church for another 900 years.

People have been urged to support fundraising for St Mary the Virgin Church in Clapham, near Worthing

“There are memorial brasses and carvings for the Shelley and De Michelgrove families in the church, but most importantly there is a beautiful reredos, the tiles behind the alter, painted by William Morris. These tiles are only one of two sets of tiles in their original place in England – it really is special.

“Clapham is a small community, so we don’t have many churchgoers. There are approximately 20 regular worshippers, so we have to appeal to the wider community to help.

“We have had support from the friends of Clapham and Patching churches which has been invaluable, as is the Parochial Church council of Findon, Clapham and Patching.”

An open day is to be held on Sunday, May 23, so people can see the work needed and where any donations will go.

Maggie said: “Myself and Siân, the other joint warden, will be on hand to answer any questions the public may have about the stonework repairs.

“We are in the middle of preparing leaflets for visitors which will detail exactly what will happen to each window, or to each door, or to each piece of stonework. People can come and have a look and see for themselves what their money is being put towards.

“Every little helps. If we can raise £5,000 through the support of the local community, that would be a fantastic addition to the church funds. All churches have a reserve of money, but if you keep dipping in and never replace it, it disappears.”