THE medieval tower of a country church has been preserved for future generations.
Things had reached crisis point at St Mary’s, Newick, because of the effects of erosion.
The tower of the parish church was built of local sandstone in the early 15th century and is a striking feature of the beautiful Grade II Listed building.
Unfortunately the softness of the stone and the effect of rain and frost had led to deterioration which, in the opinion of English Heritage, “if not tackled very soon would be outside the ability of the parish to tackle it”.
To add to the problems, when the tower was repaired 50 years ago, cement was used and being much harder than the sandstone had resulted in a much faster erosion of stonework.
The repair work, which started in March, has involved the removal of the cement mortar, replacement of stones, re-pointing and protection of the stonework with shelter coating.
This work, which has cost more than £140,000, has been done by local stonemasons Tilley and Co and they have restored the tower to its original glory.
Grants totalling in excess of £50,000 were received from English Heritage, National Churches Trust, Garfield Weston, Ernest Kleinwort Trust, Wolfson Foundation, Sussex Historic Trust, Gatwick Trust and All Churches Trust.
The Friends of St Mary’s, through fundraising events such as the Newick Park Dinner and Auction and Heber Opera evening as well as gifts, have given £14,500 including the cost of the lightning protection upgrade.
Many within the village have given generously in supporting the restoration work. Churchwarden Ian Reekie said: “It has enabled our beautiful church to be maintained for the enjoyment of future generations.”
A service of thanksgiving and dedication is to be held on Sunday, July 17, at 10.30am to which all are warmly invited.