The Church Building.
St. Wilfrid’s Church, which is a Grade II* Listed Building, was one of the first churches to be restored by Sir Ninian Comper and, as such, it is one of the most beautiful and valuable buildings in the area.
Having such an historic building as ours brings great pride – and obligation. For a relatively small congregation like ours, preserving the structure, its beautiful decoration and its Comper work is a continual but worthwhile struggle.
Apart from the normal maintenance and upkeep of the church building, we have in recent years carried out the following projects in connection with the fabric of the church:
- In 2003 extensive repairs were undertaken to the stonework and pinnacles of the West Tower at a total cost of some £36,000 of which half was provided by a grant from Yorkshire Historic Churches Trust and half through our own fundraising efforts.
- In 2005, the Porch & Vestry Roofs were re-slated at a total cost of £12,000, all of which was met from parish fundraising efforts. In 2008 a pair of beautiful new solid oak doors were fitted to the South Porch, utilising the original ironwork and hinges from the earlier doors.
- In October/November 2009, various significant external and internal repairs to the fabric of the Church were carried out, involving re-bedding of coping stones, repairing damaged pebble-dash and internal re-plastering, at a cost of £10,000
- In July 2011, interior redecoration of the Nave & South Aisle walls and ceilings was undertaken at a cost of some £3,000. It is believed that the last time these were decorated was in the 1950s !!
St. Wilfrid’s is considered to be one of the finest examples of the early work of Sir Ninian Comper,
who recreated at St. Wilfrid’s the atmosphere of an English medieval Parish Church with his elaborate rich decoration, Rood Screen, Reredos and other furnishings.
Restoration of the magnificent Comper work at St. Wilfrid’s has taken place progressively over the last five years, at a cost of £100,000, financed by a combination of fundraising through ‘Project Comper’ and two generous bequests from the estates of the late Doris Fleetwood and the late Marjorie Barker. The work, undertaken by Howell & Bellion of Saffron Walden, who are specialists in the restoration of decorated Church interiors, covered the following:
- Phase 1, completed in April 2008, bringing back to their original glory the decorations on the North Wall of the Chancel.
- Phase 2, in November 2008, saw the Chancel ceiling cleaned and repainted as necessary.
- Phase 3, the largest part of the whole project, was completed in September/October 2009. This involved restoration of our beautiful Rood Screen,Rood Cross & Figures. In 2011 we also installed some special LED spotlights to highlight the magnificent arches and decorations on the Rood Screen.
- Phase 4, in May/June 2010, was the restoration of the High Altar, Reredos and Tester (Canopy) in the Chancel.
- Phase 5 was undertaken in March/April 2011 and involved restoration of the Lady Chapel ceiling (the colours are the same as the Chancel ceiling) and the Lady Chapel Parclose Screen.
- Phase 6, carried out In February 2012, was the restoration of the Baptistry Parclose Screen. This screen originally formed part of the Jesus Chapel and was moved to its present location when the North Extension was built in 1989.
- Phase 7, repair and re-decoration of the Paschal Candle Stand, also the work of Sir Ninian Comper, was carried out in March 2012.
- Phase 8, restoration of the North Parclose Screen was completed in December 2012. This screen originally formed part of the Jesus Chapel prior to the construction of the North Extension.
Whilst we have been able to carry out a significant proportion of the work necessary to restore our magnificent Comper work to its former glory, thanks to some very generous bequests and the tireless work of our congregation, through numerous fundraising efforts, we still have ‘unfinished business’.
We will be redoubling our efforts to raise the monies necessary to complete ‘Project Comper’. The principal outstanding works are:
- Lady Chapel – East Window
- Reredos in the North Extension
- East Window in Chancel behind the High Altar
- South Window & Piscina in the Chancel
The current estimated cost of this work is £26,000. It will be carried out in stages and the timescale is dependent on the availability of funds.