PARISHIONERS at a crumbling centuries-old church need to raise a staggering £200,000 to help restore the building to its former glory.
Carol Tither, warden at St Peter’s Church in Newton-le-Willows, says the church’s sandstone walls are deteriorating at an alarming rate and are “getting worse by the day”.
The bell tower and porches are among the worst affected areas, while part of the outside wall is being held together by wooden beams to safeguard people visiting the garden of remembrance.
Mrs Tither said: “The walls have been damaged by the effects of pollution, weather and the lack of expert maintenance over the years.
“We need to employ specialist craftsmen to remove and replace the existing pointing and reface the crumbling stonework.
“At the top of the tower, new stone will need to be cut to replace the damaged stones.
“The church architect has surveyed the situation, obtaining tenders for the total cost of this work which will be in the region of £200,000.
“Unfortunately, the roof has been damaged a number of times over the last couple of years by thieves, who have been stripping the lead from it. This has meant that any money raised has had to be used to repair the roof.”
The original chapel, built on the site by Sir Robert Banastre, dates back to 1242.
Then, in 1684, Richard Legh erected a larger chapel on the site of the original, which was subsequently enlarged many times - consisting of a chancel, nave and bell turret.
In 1892 George McCorquodale laid the foundation stone for a new chancel. When he died soon after its completion, his family also rebuilt the nave in his memory.
The vicar at the time, Rev Herbert Monk, bequeathed £3,000 in his will to build the current bell tower and porches, which were added in 1901.
Parishioners are holding a fundraising craft fair between 10am-4pm this Saturday (October 22).
They’re also holding an Adopt A Stone initiative, which enables donors to sponsor one of the church’s stones in exchange for a certificate of adoption.
The 300-strong congregation currently donate in excess of £3,000 each month the church but is still facing a shortfall of £1,000 for running costs alone.
Rev Joan Matthews said: “We’re having to get more and more creative about raising cash. I really hope that people will come along to the craft fair, which is the first one we’ve ever held, and support us by buying raffle tickets and refreshments. Entry is free.”
RIGHT: Warden Carol Tither and Rev Canon Joan Matthews