Easebourne prepares for flower festival

C110978-1 JPOS Mid Ease Fest  Photo Louise Adams''Caroline Nelson in her Easebourne garden which joins several others opening for the local church.
C110978-1 JPOS Mid Ease Fest Photo Louise Adams''Caroline Nelson in her Easebourne garden which joins several others opening for the local church.

Easebourne village will be in festival mood over the three days from Friday, June 17.

A flower festival at St Mary’s Church and an open gardens event Sunday, June 19, will dovetail in with the annual church fete, which takes place on the Saturday (June 18).

And there is something rather serious which is spurring on all this activity - the matter of £100,000 needed over the next two to three years for roof repairs and other works to the church which has been at the heart of the community since the 12th century.

The Easebourne Weekend is aimed at kickstarting the St Mary’s Restoration Appeal which has just been launched.

The need for this fundraising challenge came about rather unexpectedly. Explained churchwarden Andrew Gibson: “The project was to redecorate the inside of the building but we thought we had better check the roof before we did so.

“That was when we found we had problems which could lead to water getting in. We have the first signs of water coming in around about the bell tower but it is the middle section of roof, which is out of sight, where most of the trouble is. It looks as though it has been virtually untouched since the Victorian restoration in 1876 and now needs completely re-roofing.

“It is going to cost around £50,000 and we are hoping to have the money to do it by the spring of next year.”

The aim then is to get on with the planned internal redecoration of the priory church, which is expected to cost £30,000. The final £20,000 is for a third phase which will include updating its facilities inside and renewing some of the outside paving.

Mr Gibson, who has the role of fundraising co-ordinator, said the Friends of St Mary’s, born 30 years ago to help the church council meet a previous hefty repair bill, was being brought back to life to assist again this time. Every household would receive an appeals brochure asking villagers for donations to the Friends, or to think how they could use their own talents to raise money.

The festival weekend is following closely on the heels of the restoration appeal launch to keep up the momentum. It is being co-ordinated by Katharine Minchin.

First away on Friday June 17 will be the St Mary’s flower festival entitled ‘An Incredible Journey’. With arrangements created by the flower team, lead by Mo Knight, the visitor will be taken through the outstanding moments of the Christian faith from creation to Pentecost.

Mrs Minchin said: “It is many years since St Mary’s has had a flower festival. Many local people, and businesses, have sponsored the event to ensure a stunning impact.”

The church will remain open for visitors to see the flower displays all weekend.

On Saturday from 10am the festivities continue with the annual fair in the grounds surrounding the church. Activities and stalls from cakes to coconuts will take their customary place while two new attractions are the Sussex Army Cadet Force with their kit car display team, and the wet sponge stocks with ‘victims’ ranging from vicar Derek Welsman to shopkeepers of the area.

An all day café will serve light refreshments and lunches will be available from 12.30pm in the Refectory.