Historic south Shropshire church 'grateful' to receive £10,000 grant for repairs

Parishioners at an historic south Shropshire church have been given a very helpful £10,000 grant to help them carry out vital repairs.

Francis Acton, the vice chairman of the PCC, left, is pictured with Stephen Winwood Chairman of Shropshire Historic Churches Trust, on the right, and Rev Clare Sanders, interim minister.
Francis Acton, the vice chairman of the PCC, left, is pictured with Stephen Winwood Chairman of Shropshire Historic Churches Trust, on the right, and Rev Clare Sanders, interim minister.

A special certificate presentation ceremony took place at St Margaret’s Church, in Acton Scott, before the Harvest Festival Service on Friday evening.

The money comes from Shropshire Historic Churches Trust and Mr Stephen Winwood, who chairs the trust, did the honours by handing over the vital document to Francis Acton, the vice chairman of the Parochial Church Council.

The service was taken by the Rev Clare Sanders, who is an interim minister with her husband Rev Mark Sanders who did not attend the service. The church was filled with around 50 people present for the presentation and then the service.

A spokesman for the church said: "St Margaret’s Church Acton Scott has been at the centre of this small upland parish for over 800 years and still serves an active rural community.

"Regular services are held including recently a well-attended baptism, and a service re-dedicating the chimes on the church clock, and special services such as Harvest Festival."

The spokesman added that the grant is "much appreciated and the PCC, responsible for the upkeep of the church, is very grateful to the Trust.

"For like many of these historic churches the building needs constant maintenance, the expense of which falls upon the congregation. No Government grants or public money are received except for some help with VAT."

The spokesman added: "Yet these small ancient churches are I suggest of national and international significance and are part of national and world heritage.

"The church is also visited and loved by many from near and far, looking for relatives’ graves, or to visit and enjoy the holy and peaceful atmosphere, as the visitors’ book shows."

Repairs are in the process of being done or have already been chalked off the to-do list.

The repairs which have been completed recently are to the chancel roof, re-roof of transept and porch, repair of guttering and downpipes and soakaways, repair of vestry window, and soon to be done re-plastering work on the ceiling, rebuilding of a gable, and currently in hand, to the stone work on the battlements of the tower.

In the future more work will be needed on the tower. Some years ago the stonework of the entrance porch was renewed, and by private donation the fine pipe organ was totally refurbished.

The church is a Grade II* Listed building. As well as a lovely churchyard, managed in part for wild flowers with the assistance of the God’s Acre charity, the church has historical monuments, fine Victorian stained glass windows, three bells (one ancient), hatchments, a brass, a chiming church clock, and as mentioned a fine pipe organ.

The church, specifically treasurer Edward Jones with assistance of Rupert Acton and the PCC, has employed specialist craftsmen and builders to carry out the work. Before his death in 2020 Tom Acton had been treasurer and organised repairs.

Contractors include I.W. Marston, general building and roofing contractor; Paul Arrowsmith, stonemasonry and traditional building conservation; S. Preece & Sons Ltd., plasterwork, stucco and masonry specialists.

The Shropshire Historic Churches Trust is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year – and held a special service at Shrewsbury Abbey on Sunday.

Mr Stephen Winwood, who chairs the trust, said: "The congregation of St Margaret’s is typical of so many Shropshire churches in that the parishioners and their friends are determined to preserve the fabric of this lovely old building, and we are delighted to have been able to support their endeavours, and we congratulate them on what they have achieved.”

In 2019 the Parochial Church Council at Acton Scott decided to proceed with essential roof repairs to the chancel, north transept and porch.

This project involved stripping off old slates and tiles and replacing rotten timbers, but knowing about other repairs on the horizon it was evident that their reserves, although carefully accumulated over several years, would be insufficient to meet all their future commitments.

St Margaret’s had been a member of the Historic Churches Trust for many years and had supported its fundraising events so an application for grant aid was lodged with the trust.

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