Villagers have launched their plan to preserve two historic listed churches and create a much needed community hub at the same time.
Trotton with Chithurst Parish Council and the church benefice are hoping to enhance facilities in the churches for community use as well as for church services.
They held an inaugural folk concert last weekend to demonstrate the potential of St George’s Church at Trotton as a community venue and also raised money a for the roof appeal for its medieval sister church, St Mary’s at Chithurst.
The evening started with a community gathering in St George’s, with beer provided by local brewery Ballards, followed by the concert by songwriter Rosie Hodgson and her partner Irish fiddler Rowan Piggott. Trotton born Rosie still lives there and took over her father’s place on the parish council. “St George’s and St Mary’s are parish landmarks and wonderful buildings suffering from much smaller rural and church populations. Churches in England were always centres of community life, and we’d like ours to regain that position,” she said.
Rector Edward Doyle of the United Benefice of Rogate with Terwick and Trotton with Chithurst, welcomed the initiative which would bring people together and help the church congregation pay the costs of keeping the churches alive.
Churchwardens Nicholas Hall and Sasha Boam were thrilled with the success of event which raised over £500 towards the ‘Save St Mary’s’ fund. Nicholas, who has worked with Timothy Salter, treasurer of St Mary’s, to raise money for the roof fund, said they have now raised the match funding to attract grants from the Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund. But the church needed to increase its reserve funds for unforeseen circumstances and he hoped the community hub plan could help.
Parish council chairman Carola Brown said the lack of parish facilities had been discussed for some time and the roof appeal at St Mary’s had ‘focussed our minds on an obvious option’.
The council agreed last year to help towards improving church facilities for community use and the concert was first the event.
The next event is a book launch and illustrated talk by Janet Gough, former director of cathedrals and church buildings for the Church of England on March 25.
It will be free with contributions invited towards the fund. Details of future events are listed here
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