As a Trust, we have always been extremely fortunate to have such generous and supportive members and friends, no more so than last year when we received two handsome legacies totalling almost £100,000. These have enabled us to exceed our initial budget of £80,000 for the year and I expect we will now be able to award grants in the region of £90,000. As anyone owning an old property will testify, building and restoration costs only ever increase and these ancient churches are no different. Legacies make a huge difference to our finances and we are forever grateful to those who support us in this way and our thanks also go to the late Sir Donald Sinden who also remembered us in his Will.
Our largest grant this year has been £25,000 towards the continuing restoration at All Saints Lydd. The most urgent work involves the retiling of the south aisle roof, repairs to the south aisle west window and also the south wall where inadequate drainage had caused severe problems to the brickwork and masonry. Our contributions to date have totalled £80,000 and with the final cost likely to exceed £500,000, further contributions to All Saints are inevitable. Fortunately, funds have also been forthcoming from the Heritage Lottery and the Listed Places of Worship Funds so the full expense of this daunting project will not fall entirely on our shoulders or the local community. We shall be returning to All Saints for next year’s Annual General Meeting (May 13) and Members will be able to see and judge progress for themselves. Our speaker will be the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, now Lord Williams who has very graciously accepted our invitation address us.
Members – especially those of you who joined us on the Members’ Tours this year – may have seen the condition of the interior of St Clement’s Old Romney. We are acutely aware that this lovely little church is in urgent need of repairs and we have made a grant of £20,000 towards the costs of restoration. Our grant was made in March and we had hoped that work would get under way during the summer but it looks though it will not commence until next Spring.
Our Annual General Meeting was held at St George’s Ivychurch and we are extremely grateful to Michael Turnbull, former Bishop of both Durham and Rochester who stepped into the breach at short notice and gave a splendid address. Ivychurch was looking in better condition than I have seen it for some years; an improved lighting system has made a significant difference. I have referred to the rebuilding of the West Window on numerous occasions – the origins of the problem go back to a storm in 2008 – but I am delighted to be able to report that the restoration project is now fully funded and work is underway.
Accompanying this Newsletter is our usual order form for Christmas Cards. This year we have two first class photographs both courtesy of David Campbell who also provided the photographs for our last booklet on the Marsh churches. Once again we have held the price at £5 for 10 cards.
Our friends from JAM have enjoyed another successful summer with many of the churches playing host to a wide variety of music and concerts. More recently, St Augustine, Snave welcomed the Latin Mass Society who celebrated a traditional Tridentine Mass. Rather like London buses, we have waited almost 500 years for one of these and now two have been celebrated in as many years. However, what is important is that the churches are being visited and used.
So, when is the best time to visit? Is it in the Spring when the daffodils are in full bloom at Snave? Maybe to a concert in high summer? Perhaps in the Autumn when the mists are swirling in the fields around Fairfield. Even a crisp Winter’s day when there is a light covering of snow and frost. The choice is yours. These are truly churches for all seasons. Please come and visit!