Amberley’s historic St Michael’s Church has been awarded an initial grant of £16,600 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for essential repairs to the church tower. The community has already raised over £62,000 through fundraising events, donations and securing grants towards the target which runs well into six figures.
Explains Valerie Galbraith, on behalf of the ACTnow Amberley Church Tower Appeal fundraising committee: “The church tower currently needs substantial remedial work, relating primarily to damp and to structural weaknesses. The problems are such that our beautiful Grade I listed building has been added to the Heritage at Risk Register, as being in ‘poor’ condition.
“Following several specialist surveys our architect is currently preparing a detailed specification for the works, following which a request for tenders will be issued and a contractor selected. Our target is for works to start in May.”
As well as structural repairs, work is needed on improving the drainage and the installation of a new lightning conductor. A bat survey is also having to the carried out. HLF grants are awarded in two phases: a Development Phase, which in Amberley’s case includes further preparatory and investigative work before the main works to the church tower can be carried out, and a Delivery Phase, when the major work will be undertaken.
Ancient structures need care
“We’re delighted to have received this initial support thanks to National Lottery players. St Michael’s is a wonderful building, with many special features, but like all ancient structures needs constant care and attention,” says Mrs Galbraith.
“Successive generations since the 12th century have ensured that the church has survived until the present day, and it is reassuring to know that we are now a step closer to preserving it for another century. We owe it to future generations that this important landmark remains at the heart of our community.”
Among the fundraising events have been Amberley’s first ever Garden Sculpture afternoon, which raised £5,600; a range of talks from village history to Wagner and the Third Reich; three concerts; a plant sale by the local gardening club; and, later this month (January 26) a Burns Night supper.
More events are planned this year, including concerts in the church by the Dulwich-based Concordia Chamber Choir (May 20), and by the acclaimed Bernardi Music Group on June 29 as part of the Shipley Arts Festival. In the autumn, a talk and auction is planned with local auctioneer Rupert Toovey.