The new chancel roof at an Upper Beeding church has been blessed by the Bishop of Horsham.
The Right Rev Mark Sowerby officiated at Sunday morning’s service at St Peter’s Church, where the completion of many months of work was celebrated.
Parishioners later gathered for fizz, nibbles and a fabulous cake in the shape of the church, complete with new roof tiles, which was made by one of the men in the congregation and cut by the foreman of the recent works.
The Rev Emma Graeme said: “Five years ago, we started a programme of repairs to make this beautiful 13th century building watertight, which is currently listed as ‘at risk’ by English Heritage.
“We raised more than £150,000, all of which was needed to restore the tower. The next phase was to repair the roof above the altar.
“We obtained generous grants from the Listed Places of Worship Roof Fund and the Sussex Historic Churches Trust Fund, for which we are very grateful, and this enabled us to start work.”
Once the Horsham stone roof was lifted, the full story was revealed – crumbling wood, defective supports and structurally unsound stone work. Sadly, the funds raised and the grants received were not sufficient to cover all the conservation work, which amounted £185,000
The rector added: “We therefore invited the local community to help close the funding gap and we are very grateful for all the help we have received.
“We also have other urgent works required to preserve this building for future generations and so will be continuing our fundraising.
“This building is of significant historical importance and has, over the centuries, been at the centre of village life. It provides a sanctuary for people seeking quiet and wanting to pray.
“It is a haven for wildlife and its setting above the river helps attract hundreds of visitors every year. And the church is available for weddings, funerals or baptisms.”
For further information, contact the Rev Emma Graeme on 01903 810265.
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