Sticklepath’s ancient church looks forward to a new lease of life

Ben Fox
Ben Fox

Community projects have been adversely affected by the restrictions during the coronavirus disease pandemic, but with Spring emerging, there is hope that energies can rise again. There’s some new vision as to how we want things to look in the future.

In Sticklepath there have been plans to redevelop its small church, St Mary’s, to include a Heritage Centre which will attract visitors and residents alike to explore the fascinating local history, when we are able. We know that by looking back over the years, there can be some understanding of how people have often coped and managed good times and difficulties, and what faiths and hopes saw them through. The church authorities have been very helpful and encouraging, as the project had to go through a planning permission process to achieve a Faculty go-ahead, which was awarded at the end of February.

However, how to get started when groups can’t meet either inside the building or to work together on the garden? The volunteers may all be neighbours, but the meetings have all had to be on Zoom. The project was planned to have keen volunteers dig test pits in the garden by now, in advance of a new imaginative design and replanting scheme. In front of the church there used to be buildings and a pig sty, and it is important that evidence and artefacts are sought, using small groups of enthusiasts.
Research on the history of the church is going well – online. As part of the exhibition, six local people will be recorded, who will act as characters through the ages, telling the stories around the church and village. A local builder will work with volunteers inside the building, following COVID-19 safety requirements. Some of the pews will be moved, as will the font. Also, heritage displays are to be erected plus audio provided in the rear, maintaining the lovely Chancel.

To meet Parishscapes’ funding deadlines, it was felt important to amend the initial plan which was to use only volunteers for most of this work. It is intended now to employ local artists and tradesmen – some of whose livelihood has been badly affected by the pandemic.

They will be supported by being paid for their skills. To do this, more fundraising is needed through crowdfunding. Hopefully those who can’t get their hands warmed by the work, or who haven’t had much chance to spend cash in ways they might want during lockdown, will now think about helping the heritage project.

The Heritage Group is still welcoming reflections and memories of the village and church to add to the local history collection and any donations
are most welcome. Contact Carol Johns (01837) 840822 or Derek Moore 840316 or visit Sticklepath St Marys
to donate.

Local Life