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Church cross ready to take pride of place in Bridgnorth skyline

By Tom Oakley | Bridgnorth | News | Published:

A newly-restored cross is ready to take its place back on the skyline of a market town.

Reverend Simon Cawdell and new Intergenerational Missioner Kate King with the restored cross

Last year, repair work started on the roof of the St Mary Magdalene Church in Bridgnorth after an investigation found it had been damaged by a lightning strike.

And while repairs were being carried out a decision was made to remove the cross and regild it for the first time in 50 years.

WATCH Reverend Simon Cawdell outline the repair work:

Church cross to return to Bridgnorth skyline

Over the weekend, the Bishop of Hereford Richard Frith was in attendance to bless the cross before it is placed back on top of the church’s green-capped dome when restoration work is complete.

Team vicar Reverend Sarah Cawdell said she was delighted with how the regilded cross had turned out.

She said stonemasons were continuing to repair the roof and the cross would be kept inside the church until it was able to be returned to its place on top.

“As repair work is going ahead on the roof of St Mary’s, the cross has been regilded over the winter period,” she said.

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St Mary Magdalene Church

“It returned to the church on Sunday and the Bishop of Hereford came to bless the cross before it’s put back on the top of the church.

“Stonemasons will continue to repair the lead in the roof in the course of the next few weeks. The cross will then be going right on top – there’s just a spike at the moment but the cross will go there.

“Keeping it in the church for now was a good way of recognising the hard work that had gone into regilding the cross. It’s a fantastic outcome and we’re delighted with how it looks.”

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It comes after the new Intergenerational Missioner Kate King was commissioned to St Mary’s at the weekend.

In October last year, daredevil workers abseiled down the church in East Castle Street – carrying the cross with them.

The moment was captured by photographer Ralph Walker, who is a member of Bridgnorth Camera Club.

The investigation into the church’s roof revealed a lightning strike caused around £30,000 worth of damage.

Those working to regild the cross found it was in a state of disrepair after removing it from the roof – meaning only a small amount of the original could be saved.

This portrait of Thomas Telford, believed to be from the 1930s, hangs in the porch of the church

Now the cross is as good as new and people visiting the church are in the unique position of being able to get up close and touch it before it returns to its rightful position.

Mrs Cawdell, wife of Reverend Simon Cawdell, team rector of the Bridgnorth and Morville Parishes Team Ministry, added: “The cross had to be remade and we had to start from scratch. Some of the old cross remains but it’s basically completely new.

“It is a fantastic outcome though and looks very pleasant. It is as big as a person – we’re urging young people in Bridgnorth to come and see it so in years to come they can point up at the cross and tell their grandchildren they’ve touched it!

“When the work on the roof is complete all depends on the weather at the moment.”

St Mary’s Church was built on the site of the original church in 1792 and was designed by Thomas Telford – marking his first venture into ecclesiastical architecture.

The church is unusual in that it based on a north-south axis, not the more conventional east-west orientation.

And its position in Shropshire gives it a number of unique features.

Many of the gravestones in the churchyard are made of cast iron, reflecting the area’s role in the Industrial Revolution. The church also holds the table on which the surrender of Bridgnorth Castle was signed in 1647.

A portrait hangs inside the church of Thomas Telford. It was the first of only three churches that Telford designed, and features a portico of four Tuscan columns carrying a cornice.

Tom Oakley

By Tom Oakley
Trainee Multi-Media Journalist

Express & Star reporter responsible for covering Walsall and Staffordshire. Got a story? Email tom.oakley@expressandstar.co.uk or call 01902 319482.

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