RESTORATION work at St Mary the Virgin Church in Stoneleigh has been completed following a £211,800 lottery grant.
The grade I listed church was closed for nearly nine months while repairs to the roof and stonework were carried out, thanks to the main Heritage Lottery Fund grant, together with further donations from villagers and other organisations. The extra cash meant additional internal repairs could also be done while the 12th century church was closed.
Churchwarden Sarah Ballinger said: “This money has not only enabled us to make the building safe, but has also helped us to better inform our visitors, and provide a space for the community to use. We can now guarantee our church will be there for future generations to enjoy.”
The church will be celebrating the re-opening with a ‘Homecoming Celebration’ on Sunday May 21. The day will begin with a special service at 11am, followed by performances from the Stoneleigh Male Voice Choir, ladies choir, hand bell ringers and organist Ron Binnie.
Visitors will also be able to see a pictorial display of the restoration works and explore the Stoneleigh History Society’s summer exhibition ‘Stoneleigh Church: 1,000 years of change and renewal’.
Sarah added: “The Homecoming Celebration gives us an opportunity to say thank you to all those involved in the project. Although the church building has been closed we have continued to worship in the community using venues like the village club, village hall and Kennel Club to whom we are very grateful.”
People have been worshipping on the site of the church for more than 700 years while there was also a mention of two priests at Stoneleigh in the Domesday Survey of 1086.
The earliest sandstone structure of the church dates from the 1100s and the building contains a number of historic embroideries and tapestry works.