Church celebrates restoration
8 May 2012
The Bishop of Basingstoke has joined a Hampshire Church to conduct a service celebrating the completion of phase one of a major restorations project.
To a full congregation at Wherewell church, including members of the Downs Benefice Community of which Wherwell it is a part, The Bishop, supported by the Reverend Juliet Montague Vicar of Wherwell, conducted a service to celebrate the completion of the phase.
The phase has included a new nave roof, the reshingling of the tower and spire and a chiming apparatus for the bells, and cost. £320,000. This was completed over a nine month period during 2011. More of £150,000 of this amount had been funded by English Heritage with significant contributions also coming from the local community.
The congregation also included representatives of Grant making trusts who had supported the project. In particular Lady Appleyard, Chairman of the Hampshire and the Islands Historic Churches Trust who congratulated all those involved with this project and briefly spoke about the work of the Trust.
This service in part replicated a similar service held in December 1858, when the then Bishop of Winchester dedicated the recently completed ‘new’ church. As then Bishop Peter was greeted by ‘a merry peal’ from bells that until the installation of the Ellacombe Chiming Apparatus had not been rung regularly for more than half a century. Quoting from a newspaper article on the service in 1858, the Bishop said he hoped he could emulate the then Bishop and give "an eloquent and striking discourse."
Vestments also dedicated
During the service, two sets of new vestments were also dedicated. Made by Churchwarden Pam Prince, these featured four sets of differing colours, totaling 44 pieces, donated by families associated with the church, taking Pam four years to complete.
For the service, the Church plate dating from the middle of the seventeenth century, usually held in the Treasury at Winchester Cathedral, was also used.
Music was provided by The Wherwell Singers under the direction of Dr. Dale Webb with brass players from the Andover Town Band.
Phase two of the restoration project is now underway. This will include a new heating system and the refurbishment and enclosure of the Vestry. It has also been decided to bring the peal of five bells back to full-circle ringing.
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