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Cash softens blow for Shropshire church hit by tornado

By Toby Neal | Shawbury | News | Published:

A historic church damaged by a tornado is one of a clutch of places-of-worship across the county in line for grants worth thousands of pounds for repairs.

Trustees of the Shropshire Historic Churches Trust, who meet four times a year, granted a number of applications for cash to help pay for renovations or repairs at their summer meeting.

And, in the biggest grants, two churches will be getting £10,000, and a third, tornado-hit St Mary’s at Shawbury, a smidgeon more at £10,650.

Suffered tornado damage - St Mary's, Shawbury

John Whiteside, grants officer with the trust – which is a charity that considers grant applications for essential repairs and preservation work from Shropshire churches and chapels of all Christian denominations – said: “This church also serves as the church for the RAF station.

“We originally received an application for help with refurbishing the tower in 2015. The stone was crumbling, the roof timbers were rotting and the roof itself was leaking. This was funded from various sources and was costing some £120,000.

“Then a catalogue of mishaps followed, including thefts from the site and culminating in the tornado attack on the night of November 17, 2016, which caused damage to the roof of the chancel.

“Their misfortunes continued as the insurance company only contributed £1,000 towards the £10,000 extra cost. So in all we gave an original grant of £7,650 towards the tower and then £3,000 towards the chancel damage. I have to say that the local fundraising was great. Not only did they have continuous coffee mornings, they also had a village-wide appeal for donations.”

Meanwhile the ancient St Peter’s Church at Wrockwardine is getting £10,000 for bell tower repairs, while Shrewsbury Abbey is getting the same amount for repairs to high level stonework.

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Mr Whiteside said: “Wrockwardine is a Grade I listed church with Anglo-Saxon roots, though no remains now, and has had a varied history including being occupied by Parliamentarians during the Civil War.

“It was placed on the At Risk register by English Heritage in 2014, mainly because the tower was falling apart, bell tower masonry, leaking roof and rotten timbers being the problems. This all added up to £230,000. They received a large sum from the Heritage Lottery Fund.”

Other churches and chapels for which grants have been approved are Albrighton Methodist Chapel which gets £5,000 for repairs to windows, and Bitterley, which will receive £4,500 towards roof repairs.

Clive Church will be given £4,000 for organ screen refurbishment. The church was paid for by the Bibby family of Liverpool shipbuilders. There is a Lancashire trust that helps with the organ refurbishments which, on this occasion, waived its rules on boundaries to give a grant of £5,000, in addition to SHCT’s £4,000.

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Diddlebury is to receive £1,400 for a new audio system, while Eyton-on-the-Weald Moors will get £2,000 for repairs to a medieval glass window Loppington will be given £2,000 for the refurbishment of a 17th century hatchment. A hatchment is a diamond-shaped board made of wood or wood and canvas which bears the arms, crest or motto of a dead person and in Loppington the hatchment is of a local, still living, family, one of whom is a patron of the trust.

Much Wenlock will receive £7,000 to re-lead the nave roof and Neenton will be given £3,000 to replace floorboards and joists.

Pontesbury will get £1,000 to replace rotten floorboards, Quatford, £6,000 for tower roof repairs, Snead, £4,000 to replace flooring affected by dry rot, Weston Rhyn, £3,000 for bell-cot repairs, Whittington, £4,300 for roof repairs.

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of the county?s history. Lives in Telford and based at the paper?s Ketley headquarters.

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