Tower boost for one of Banburyshire’s historic churches

It's great news for the congregation. Photo: George Sainsbury
It's great news for the congregation. Photo: George Sainsbury

The congregation of one of Banburyshire’s finest churches has been given a massive boost in its efforts to restore the historic tower.

St Mary’s in Adderbury – described as ‘one of the most wonderful parish churches in England’ on the Great English Churches website – has been awarded a grant of £290,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The tower is on English Heritage’s ‘at risk register’, with the church being rated as a Grade I listed building.

Contractor Stone Edge has started to rebuild the badly damaged eastern parapet, relead the parapet gutters, replace gargoyles, repair the belfry louvres, repair the carved frieze and redecorate the clock faces.

An educational programme is running to coincide with the work.

This includes pupils from nearby Christopher Rawlins Church of England Primary School designing replacement gargoyles and a village talk by the architect about the restoration work being done on the tower.

The £400,000 needed overall for restoration is largely funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund money but Friends of St Mary’s Adderbury (FOSMA) has been raising funds with events such as Jazz in the Garden and the Christmas Tree Festival and their efforts are ongoing.

Those who were sponsored to take part in Ride and Stride also raised money for the tower restoration.

Grants have also been received from the Oxford Historic Church Trust, Church Care, Society of Antiqua, Adderbury Parish Council, Adderbury Education and Banbury Charities.

Vicar of St Mary’s, Rev Stephen Fletcher, said: “We are delighted that we have received this support thanks to National Lottery players.

“The tower with its spire has been a focal point for the community since it was built 700 years ago.

“The restoration work will ensure the tower is no longer at risk and preserved for generations to come.”

There was a Saxon church in the village but this was rebuilt in 1250, with the transepts and nave arcades remaining from that 13th century building surviving.

It is renowned for its many remarkable carvings.