Church near Ludlow could close after almost 180 years

A Shropshire village church could be forced to close after almost 180 years.

Judith Reole, Parochial Church Council secretary, and former church warden Carol Hardy
Judith Reole, Parochial Church Council secretary, and former church warden Carol Hardy

Like many across the country, St Paul's church in Knowbury, near Ludlow, has seen numbers dwindle over the years.

Its warden stepped down at this year's annual parish meeting, meaning the church cannot continue to run unless a replacement is found.

A public meeting has been organised to try and plan a way forward for the historic church, which was consecrated in 1840 to satisfy the needs of a burgeoning population of mine workers.

Parochial Church Council secretary Judith Reole said: "In recent years support for the church has dwindled, our congregation is elderly and it has proved difficult to attract younger churchgoers.

"At a good service we might get about nine to 11 people.

"The church started in 1840 and in those days it would be absolutely packed, because people did go to church then.

"In our lifetime it has slowly dwindled. In the old days, when I was a little girl at school in Knowbury, we had a vicar who would come into school to make sure we knew our scriptures.

St Paul’s Church in Knowbury

"There was a Sunday school, a choir, there was much more life in the church.

"Sunday used to be the day when people did things at home and went to church. But now everyone has got cars and there is more choice.

"It is symptomatic of what's happening all over the country, but in our village things are coming to a head a bit sooner than they are in other places."

It is hoped that the meeting will lead to some renewed support for the church, and Judith is optimistic that its future can be secured if people are prepared to come forward and help.

The meeting will be at 10.30am on Saturday in Knowbury Memorial Hall. In attendance will be Tim Bridges, Diocesan Buildings Advisor and The Revd Lynn Money, Rector of the Ashfords Benefice.

Judith said: "What we need is some more people to become active supporters of the church, whether that is fundraising or joining the PCC.

"Without a church warden we can't carry on. There has been no interest so far. It's quite a responsibility, it takes time and people haven't got that.

"We are hopeful that there will be enough general interest to be able to keep going. We are giving it our best."

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