A 13th century village church has re-opened after completion of a major £380,000 conservation project.
The medieval Church of the Holy Sepulchre at Warminghurst in the South Downs is cared for by The Churches Conservation Trust, a national charity protecting historic churches at risk.
Local volunteers started noticing problems with the church’s roof in 2014 when increasing amounts of mortar began to fall down and rain and snow found its way through the ragged roof lining.
And - because of the historically important interior of the church - rapid action was needed to ensure the building was made watertight.
Fundraising by the local Friends group, led by Rachel Webster, managed to raise £25,400 which was supplemented with funds from the Churches Conservation Trust and a grant from The Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund.
Work started in April 2016 with the building completely boxed in with scaffolding. On removal of the Horsham stone, the structure was found to be precarious, which extended the project by nine months, with extra repairs needed to the ancient roof beams.
And, as the works were completed last month, Rachel said: “It is fabulous to see the completion of the roof repair project and especially gratifying for the Friends of Warminghurst Church, who have worked so hard from the start to help raise funds for the work to begin.”
Peter Aiers, director of the South East, Churches Conservation Trust, said: “The fact that we’ve been able to replace the Horsham stone slates on the roof of this building is particularly gratifying.
“This local roofing material has been used in West Sussex for centuries and provides a very tangible link between this beautiful church and the rich landscape of the South Downs.”
He also paid thanks to the Friends group and volunteers: “We couldn’t have done it without them.”
A celebratory garden party was held on July 21, attended by former Times editor and Churches Conservation Trust trustee Sir Simon Jenkins, who wrote the bestselling book ‘England’s Thousand Best Churches’.
Although the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is no longer used for regular worship, it is still used for concerts and events and still holds an an annual Christmas service.