Wanted: Umbrellas for hymn singers (and cash for a new roof)

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The village of Shillingstone is rolling up its sleeves – a huge community effort is required to save the village church

The roof of Shillingstone’s church has a 20ft hole

Worshippers in Shillingstone could soon be looking for umbrellas and buckets; the roof of their parish church of the Holy Rood is in a worrying condition. Where tiles have slipped there is already a 20ft hole in part of it which has had to be covered with tarpaulin to protect the church’s north aisle.
The Parochial Church Council (PCC) has called in architects and other experts to assess the damage and risks. Their verdict is the need for a complete re-roofing of this ancient grade 1 listed building dating back to the 12th century.
The estimated bill the village faces?
In the region of £340,000.
Major fundraising efforts are now under way to enable the first phase of works, which is estimated to cost some £140,000 and must go ahead as a matter of urgency.
Phase two, the main part of the roof, is expected to require the additional £200,000.

The parish church of The Holy Rood, Shillingstone

A place for a thousand years
An appeal has been launched, grants are being sought, and fundraising events are being planned. Appeal leaflets have gone to every household in Shillingstone and to as many people as can be found who have had connections with the parish in the past; perhaps through the former girls school, Croft House, the village school, those with family links, and former villagers who have moved away.
PCC treasurer Anne Powell says: ‘It’s a daunting prospect, but I am optimistic that the money can be raised to hold the weather at bay for another 100 years or more.’
PCC member Ray Suter said in a message appealing for villager’s help – in cash or kind: ‘Our Parish Church has served as a vital meeting place for a thousand years. Not just for worship but for a millennia of Shillingstone’s weddings, baptisms and funerals as well as national celebrations.
‘During war and peace it has served as a place for private prayer and thanksgiving. The church bells have rung out across the village to celebrate notable events down the ages. Our ancestors are buried around our church and their graves are a precious reminder of how much they contributed to the village we now call home. It must be unthinkable that we could lose this precious, historic building which has been loved and preserved by so many.’
Before any work can begin on the church roof, however, the small matter of the bats has to be resolved! Experts have said there are, quite rarely, at least four different varieties of these protected mammals present, all of which have called Shillingstone church their home for years.

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