Steering group hopes to put spire back on St Mary's church in Petworth

Steering group has been set up in a big to reinstate the spire at St Mary’s Church in Petworth, after it was taken down in the 1940s.
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St Mary’s Church Petworth once had a spire that inspired famous artists from Turner to Constable.

But after a chequered history going back to 1283 the spire was completely removed in 1947.

Now a steering group is hoping to funds to reinstate it.

St Mary's Church in Petworth now 
Picture: Google Street ViewSt Mary's Church in Petworth now 
Picture: Google Street View
St Mary's Church in Petworth now Picture: Google Street View
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Alexandra Soskin, chairman of St Mary’s Petworth Spire Reinstatement Steering Group, said: “It is clear the reinstatement of the spire would bring back an awe-inspiring and significant West Sussex Weald landmark.”

The group also believes the reinstatement offers the potential to explore the possibility of attracting a mobile phone company to install a phone mast inside the church spire.

Soskin said: “If this were to happen, it would transform the strength of Petworth’s mobile signal, which is currently poor.”

In its history the spire has had just one hiatus between 1800 to 1827, it was removed due to developing a lean.

The spire at St Mary's in PetworthThe spire at St Mary's in Petworth
The spire at St Mary's in Petworth
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It was replaced in 1827 but was too heavy for the tower and in 1927 was found to be leaning. Despite repairs weaknesses were found and it was taken down.

The steering group, which was formally convened in September 2021, is looking for funding for the project.

Soskin said: “We are at a preliminary stage currently, and hope to have a feasibility and viability study underway soon. The international civil engineering company Ramboll have offered to conduct this study on a “pro bono” basis, for which we are very grateful indeed.”

This preliminary study should lead to an assessment of likely cost for the project.

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The group of trustees is looking for a fund raiser who can then help them raise the sum, which is likely to be significant, to carry out the project.

Soskin said: “We will almost certainly be approaching the large heritage organisations such as English Heritage as well the National Lottery and other organisations; but we are also likely to seek local fund raising as well.

“However, we will not be expecting any contribution from the Church itself. There are already plenty of demands on their limited funding.

“The reinstatement of a new spire would be entirely ‘self-funded’.

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“So it would not in any way draw monies away from the many other important ongoing needs of the church.”

Further money will be needed to maintain the spire.

For more information, email [email protected]

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