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News Archive > General > Congregation are inspired by £300,000 SOS campaign

Congregation are inspired by £300,000 SOS campaign

By Sharon Sullivan 21st October 2020

Congregation are inspired by £300,000 SOS campaign
The campaign ‘Save Our Spire’ was launched in 2017 by the congregation of St Mary’s Church, Par, to raise the extra funds that were needed to complete the repair and restoration of the church spire

The congregation of the church which has stood in Par for nearly 200 years are celebrating the completion of a three year £300,000 project to save the building’s spire.

At least 30 tons of granite and slate has been used to make the church of St Mary the Virgin in St Blazey Gate safe for future generations.

Campaign Save Our Spire was launched in 2017 by the congregation of the church to find the funds to carry out essential repair works to the crumbling spire.

In 2016, the five yearly inspection of St Mary's church, by the Diocese of Truro, identified that condition of the tower and spire had deteriorated over the years and required urgent work to ensure their structural integrity.

They were told that failure to do so would render the tower unsafe for continued use and the church would need to close.

The congregation rallied together and launched the Save Our Spire (SOS) appeal to fund the work. As part of the campaign they also submitted a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for financial support to repair the spire and bring it back to its original state.

The appeal was awarded £198,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund leaving them to raise £100,000. The whole parish and beyond has been actively working towards raising the remaining cash for the project.

For months the church spire was shrouded in scaffolding while the works were carried out. The major restoration project to preserve the spire for another century has now wound up.

A spokesman from the Save Our Spire (SOS) campaign group said they had smashed the £100,000 target in just three years.

They said: “The project to Save Our Spire began in 2017 when we were given a grant by The Heritage Lottery Fund to carry out essential repair work on the Tower and Spire at St Mary’s with concurrent outstanding repair works to the building to make the building safe and fit for use and future generations. The building at the time as on the at risk register of Heritage England.

“The project to Save Our Spire is now completed. The net cost of the capital works amounted to £304, 651. “Internal works to the walls will be completed within the next couple years, once the now exposed walls have dried out and will cost a further £24,550 - which we have no grant funding for. Once we are through with Covid-19 then fundraising will once again begin.

“The project team and whole congregation wish to sincerely and gratefully say thank you to all who have donated, fundraised, in so many different ways, and given hours of their own time in support of the Save Our Spire project.

“The final money for the £100,000 needed came in coincidentally at the same time as the final mortar was put in to complete the work and we were grateful to the local business men who gave the final £540, which meant we had raised our full parish target of £100,000 in just three years.

“It has been hard work, but we have had a lot of fun in the planning and at the events themselves, and been amazed at the ingenuity of people in arranging an amazing variation of events.”

The ecclesiastical Parish of Par was formed on January 20, 1846, from portions of the parishes of St Blazey and Tywardreath. The church was the first commission of the eminent Victorian architect, George Edmund Street, whose work culminated in the design and building of the Royal Courts of Justice.

The church was built in 1849 and the Carlyon family of Tregrehan House were instrumental in its positioning - on the edge of their estate - and it was used by the family and their servants for worship.

The first vicar of Par, George Rundle Prynne, was the vicar of a newly established parish with no church. In its design Street produced a church, built using local stone, the most  impressive aspect being the square tower with an octagonal belfry, with a spire that was used as a day marker by those at sea, and today is still used as a focal point throughout the area.

By Sharon Sullivan 21st October 2020

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