Prayers answered as church work proceeds

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WORK IN PROGRESS: Holnest Church near Sherborne
WORK IN PROGRESS: Holnest Church near Sherborne

Conservation works and repairs taking place behind the scaffolding at Holnest Church near Sherborne are taking shape, answering the parishioners’ prayers.

Funds amounting to £125,000 have flooded in from the National Lottery, local charities, organisations and the Sherborne community for the Mend and Make Good project to repair the chancel roof, church windows and repoint the masonry, which are progressing apace.

However, during the scheme of repairs on the Grade 1 Listed building, several expensive and extensive surprises were revealed.
After the careful removal of the tiles, contractors found several chancel roof trusses and the wall plate were in a much poorer condition than originally thought and the north slope was close to a state of collapse. Closer inspection of the church tower revealed the fourth quoin was in a very fragile condition and in danger of collapse onto the church porch.

The Parochial Church Council (PCC) took advice from the architect and a structural engineer to agree workable solutions.

Now the south-east quoin, in accordance with permissions obtained from Salisbury Diocese, is being rebuilt using stone sourced from a local quarry and expertly tooled, positioned and secured by skilled stonemasons.

So, given the additional repairs and building works needed, coupled with covid-19 restrictions, the cold spell with its plunging temperatures and increased costs, it is little surprise the work has been delayed.

The PCC are expecting to re-open the church towards the end of May, but the church yard is open for those who want to visit loved ones. Churchwarden Jenny Hunnisett (Holnest PCC) said: “We are really pleased with the good progress being made on the repair and conservation works at the church and thrilled to have received so much interest and support for the ‘Mend and Make Good’ project, thanks to National Lottery players and thanks to local charities and organisations and supporters within the community, who have contributed towards funding the project.”

“Holnest Church is the only public building in a village with no shop, school or public house. It serves as an important hub in this rural environment. This project provides an opportunity for our community, which extends well beyond our parish boundary.”

“Holnest PCC is extremely grateful for the generosity of all its supporters over many years, they have collectively enabled this project to proceed.” Jenny added: “Unfortunately, due to covid-19 the final push to fully fund the project and to raise funds for the additional costs has been severely hampered by the cancellation of planned fundraising events and little chance of planning new event in the near future. Therefore, the PCC continues to be open to receive donations.”

… here’s how you can help

Holnest Church is a Grade 1 listed building dating from the 14th and 15th centuries. The church boasts unusual architectural features including an original 13th century font, a stone porch dating back to 1650, a six- sided Jacobean pulpit and Georgian box pews.

To date the PCC has received financial support from Dorset Historic Churches Trust £10,000, Erskine Muton Trust £10,000, local Whist Drives £7,000 and the Friends of Holnest Church £5,000.

These generous donations put the PCC in a very strong position to apply for further funding and from the National Lottery Heritage fund, successfully securing £74,500 and a further £14,500.
The Friends of Holnest Church have also pledged a further contribution towards the additional costs.

If anyone would like to donate towards the church repairs please get in touch with churchwarden Jenny Hunnisett on 01963 210562 or email jenny7keith@btinternet.com or the PCC treasurer, Ben Lane, White Hart Lodge, Holnest Park, Sherborne, Dorset, DT9 6HA or email ben.lane289@gmail.com.

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