Four years after it was destroyed by arsonists, the Bishop of Ely prepares to re-open and re-dedicate St Mary’s
PUBLISHED: 14:43 11 March 2014 | UPDATED: 14:43 11 March 2014
Four years after it was destroyed by arsonists, the rebuilt St Mary’s Church, Westry, is to re-open at a special service conducted by the Bishop of Ely.
However in advance of the official re-opening, the doors open for eight days at the end of this month to give the public a chance to see the work that has been done.
The fire in March 2010 left only four walls standing but thanks to a dedicated team of skilled craftspeople, the restoration is complete.
St Mary’s Church at Westry is being consecrated on April 1 in a service led by the Rt Rev Stephen Conway at 6.30pm
Rev Anthony Chandler, priest in charge, said: “The quality of craftsmanship by Bowmans and Coulsons is amazing. Bowmans restored the stonework and the roof.
“The Coulson Building Group of Cambridge restored the next phase of the work. They were contracted to lay on water and to install an air sourced heat pump in a small building that has been built on the Wisbech side of the churchyard to heat the under floor heating in a new stone floor.
“A balcony has been built at the back of the church. Below the balcony a toilet, sink and storage facilities has been built.
“The old organ area has become a side chapel or meeting room. The vestry has been refurbished to have a built in desk, storage and hanging space for robes.
“Radiators are placed in the wall below each of the nave windows so that the air sourced heat pump can raise the temperature when activities are taking place in the church.”
Other features include a new organ on the balcony made by Makin organs and furniture designed specifically to match the building by Luke Hughes furniture of London.
The suspended ceiling has been replaced in the sanctuary and stone steps have been renewed.
In addition there is lighting, a projector, screen, internet, loop and speaker system.
The church has been re-plastered and decorated and is fully accessible for disabled people.
Rev Chandler said: “Much of the church has been replaced as it was and the church will be ideal for both church and community use.
“This is a huge amount of work. We hope that the facilities will be good for both the church and the community for generations to come.
“The financial difference between the cost as was and what is required to pay for a church that is fit for purpose for the future will be up to £120,000.
“So far, through the generosity of so many people and organisations, we have £115,000. This includes a grant by WREN (Waste Recycling Environmental Ltd) of £15,000 towards the cost of the projector and screen for community use.
“A grant of £10,000 by the Garfield Weston Foundation and by the All churches Trust (part of Ecclesiastical Insurance) of £1750 towards the general cost and £3000 from Cambridgeshire Historic Churches Trust towards the air sourced heat pump.
“We are not keen to have to take out loans because as is the case with many churches it is difficult to raise funds each year to pay for the running costs and the Parish Share. It costs about £20,000 a year to pay our way at St. Mary’s church. We are hopeful that now people know the amount of money that is needed to complete the restoration, there may still be a number of people who would like to help our fund-raising or make a donation to help pay for the cost of restoring St. Mary’s Church,” he said.
St Mary’s will be open on Sunday March 23, Monday 24, Tuesday 25, Wednesday 26, Thursday 27, Friday 28 from 2-4 .
Then on Saturday 29 from 10-4 and Sunday 30 from 2-4.