Welcome to a
somewhat belated Summer issue of the newsletter. A lot has been happening
in the last few months, and there is much to report on here. Remember,
though, that you also have a chance to hear much more about the work to
restore and beautify the church at our Annual General Meeting in November.
Accompanying this edition is the notice of the date and venue. This is
your chance to have a say in plans for work on the church, and to suggest
ideas for how we can raise funds. Please do come along and support the
meeting: you will be most welcome.
Speaking of funds, Tony Doyle our
treasurer has prepared the accompanying graph showing a fairly
steady growth in our funds. However it does not convey the full
picture as between 2000 and 2003 we have spent a lot on the
church. This is a tremendous result, and a tribute to all the
hard work that has gone into fund-raising, and the generous
donations from Friends and local charities that have supported
our work over the last six years.
31st May saw the first of our big fund raising events for the Summer, a
sale of second-hand books at the church. These had been generously donated
to raise money for the church. Local press coverage (thank you Gerry)
ensured a lot of interest in the sale. We held the sale in the church
itself so that book buyers could get a look at the building which they
were helping to preserve. It was quite a sight with a few minutes to go
before the doors opened to see a queue stretching all the way back from
the church door to the High Street! Once the doors opened trade was brisk,
and many a bargain was there to be found. Overall just short of £400 was
raised on the day.
The Summer fete
Next in the busy Summer schedule was the fete, hosted once again by
Seymour and Louise Aitken at Brook House. The fete formed a part of the
Cricklade Festival, and this, plus the lovely weather helped bring in the
punters. A total of some £1,400 added to the funds.
History on paper and online
In conjunction with fund-raising we aim to present the history of St
Mary's. There have been two new initiatives this summer.
First of all the Friends has issued a revised short history of the
church. It now includes historical notes on both the church and the local
Catholic community. Three local artists have provided illustrations. This
19-page booklet is on sale in the church, at the Council office, and at
'Scissors', the hairdressers in the High Street, at a very modest £1.
Please do get in touch with the committee if you are aware of any other
local outlets who might want to sell the booklet on our behalf.
Also the Friends of St Mary's web-site goes from strength to strength.
David Tetlow, our web editor has recently launched a 'virtual tour' of the
church and churchyard. Visitors to the web site are guided round the
church with explanatory text supplemented by new photos of the church. One
advantage of a virtual tour is that you can go to bits that are not easily
reached in the 'real' world. So for an opportunity to see what the clock
mechanism in the bell-chamber looks like (or indeed our new central
heating boiler) there is no longer a need to clamber up the Victorian iron
ladder in the tower - just point your Internet browser at http://welcome.to/friendsofstmarys.
Formal open days have been held this Summer alongside the fundraising
events, and also, once again this year, as part of Heritage Open Days
weekend on 13th September. In addition committee members have been active
in giving talks to local and visiting groups. We were happy to host visits
from the local Women's Institute and from the English Catholic History
Association, both of whom made generous donations in return for tours and
talks at the church. A new Visitors Book in the church invites comments
Open Church policy - a way forward for St Marys?
On the subject of visitors, the Friends, in association with other
local churches, hosted a very interesting seminar on the subject of church
security on September 17th. Nick Tolson from a group called National
and Ian Giles from Ecclesiastical Insurance gave a thought-provoking
presentation on how churches can be opened safely and securely. The
message was that, with some fairly basic precautions, it was often best
for a church to remain open to visitors during daylight hours. Advertising
the fact locally could mean that any potential burglars or troublemakers
would actually be put off. They would not know when someone else might
drop in, whereas if the church was locked, and they broke in, they could
be assured that they would not be disturbed.
How to spend it
Although much has been achieved with the money raised by the Friends,
there still remains much to be done. Two projects are in hand.
The first of these is repairs to the roof over the North aisle. At its
most recent meeting the Friends committee agreed to commit the greater
part of available funds, some £11,500, towards the cost of this repair
work made necessary by structural movement of the North wall some years
back. The roof is being stripped and specially made ties inserted into
some of the timbers to reconnect the roof-trusses to the wall. Additional
insulation is also being added to the roof before the stone tiles are
Restoration work in progress
at the church September 2003
The other project in hand is work on the North chapel. It is hoped that
a plan for work proposed will be available shortly - perhaps at the Annual
General Meeting, but in essence the screen at the front of the North aisle
will be moved into the archway that leads into the chapel. The chapel
itself will then provide the confessional for the church, plus some
additional storage. There are also plans for a commemorative stained glass
window to go in the small East window of the chapel. This would be
dedicated to St Augustine, to commemorate both the meeting that he held
near Cricklade some 1400 years ago, and in honour of the dedication of the
former chapel in Calcutt Street (now the town museum) which was previously
home to the Catholic congregation.
In addition the quinquennial survey highlighted further urgent repairs
which, with other repairs needed in the next two and a half years, will
cost about £5,600. Add to that the need for repairs on the churchyard
cross and you can see that there is still a long way to go.
Landfill Tax Credit Scheme -watch this space
In this context it is sad not to be able to report any progress with
fund-raising under this tax credit scheme. You will recall earlier in the
year the Friends holding an Extraordinary General Meeting specially to be
able to register under this scheme, by which land-fill operators can fund
environmental improvement schemes (including restoration projects) and
receive tax allowances. So far this route has proved fruitless, as local
landfill operators have proved reluctant to support us. If you know of
anyone who might be able to help in this way, do get in touch. The Friends
of St Mary's has been approved as an 'Environmental Body' by the group
that administers the scheme (ENTRUST), but without support from the
land-fill operators there will be no funds forthcoming from this source.
A call from the committee for new members! The Friends very much
welcome new applicants to join the committee and help us with organisation
and fund-raising. The duties are not onerous, its good experience, and the
cause is a worthy one. So, if you have energy and a little time to commit,
do get in touch with anyone on the committee. The Annual General Meeting
in November is your chance to step forward and roll up your sleeves.
And one final note from your Editor... After five issues I am keen to
step down as Newsletter Editor, so as to be able to concentrate on ENTRUST
and other heritage sector grant applications for St Mary's. If you or
someone you know would like to take on this role, please do get in touch.
Can I also thank the Friends committee and all of those who have assisted
in submitting articles about the church and suggesting ideas over the last