£350,000 project to restore historic church is complete

Jenny Irvine, from Historic England, and church architect Andrew Boyce.
Jenny Irvine, from Historic England, and church architect Andrew Boyce.

A £350,000 project to restore and save an historic village church is now complete.

A service of thanksgiving and celebration to mark the restoration and conservation of St Martin’s Church in Fangfoss was held at the church last Saturday.

The building was in desperate need of repair. In 2012, it was decided that restoration work had to take place on the church to prevent it becoming unsafe and possibly closing. The church received a £150,000 grant from Historic England and two smaller grants from The Wolfson Foundation and the Yorkshire Historic Churches Trust. The rest of the money came from fundraising by villages, The Parochial Church Council of St Martin’s Church, the parish council, the Jubilee park committee. Church commissioners also contributed funds to restore the chancel of the church.

Church warden Maggie Smith is delighted with the restoration work that has taken place. She said: “We are so delighted. We have saved it. It is there now for the next generation.”

Meanwhile, a large model of the church has been built from wooden jigsaw pieces in the churchyard. The final jigsaw piece was installed last Saturday to a drum roll, cheers and a balloon release. The model was built by local carpenter Harry Postill.

Last Saturday’s service was attended by The Bishop of Selby, the Rt Rev Dr John Thomson, and the Archdeacon of York, the Venerable Sarah Bullock, as well as the Rev Jan Hardy, Rev Canon Val Hewetson, Rev Maggy Ellison and Ken Townley.

The church was full for the service and refreshments were served outside afterwards.

Andrew Boyce, who is the architect for the project, and Matthias Garn, Master Mason, were on hand to explain some of the interesting features uncovered during the restoration work. The many red stones that are visible are an indication of a fire in the church prior to the rebuilding that took place from 1848 to 1850. The architect at that time, Robert Chantrell, used many stones from the original Norman church in that restoration.

Of particular interest was the carved stone corbel head of St Martin which had previously been built into the walls and partially covered over in the 1850 rebuild, with only the hand remaining visible.

This has now been conserved and can be seen in exquisite detail.