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St Leonard's church
St Leonard's Church
Stanton Fitzwarren
Swindon
Wiltshire

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There has been a church building here for over 1000 years. Starting as a small rectangular Anglo-Saxon structure, enlarged and strengthened by the Normans and still containing many Norman features .It has later Early English additions and contains a font, carved around 1170, which is of national significance. The building was continually enlarged and "improved" by the Victorians and is decorated inside with amazing Neo- Gothic wood carvings. It is Grade1 listed.

The building is still in regular use. Most ordinary Sundays 12-30 people meet there for Church of England worship services and we welcome any one ;of any Christian denomination; of any faith or of none to join us. Special services attract up to 120 people. Last year 15 wedding couples and their guests celebrated there, and with baptisms and funerals over 2,000 people used the building. It is planned to keep it open every Wednesday in school term time, you can visit the building any time by contacting one of us.

The castellated parapet and pinnacles which were added to the tower (built in1631) by the Victorians were held in place by iron rods drilled into the stonework. These rusted forcing the stone blocks apart and cracking them. The lead covering the tower roof (dated 1725), is became increasingly porous and  needed frequent repair. The timber roof under the lead rotted and  collapsed allowing rain water to pool and seep into the structure. From the ground all looked well, but closer inspection revealed that the stone blocks were starting to move apart, to crack and were in danger of falling. The church building and churchyard would have inevitably become dangerous and unusable.

The high level masonry needed to be demolished and rebuilt. The tower roof timbers  replacing and the roof rebuilt and covered with new lead. Access to the tower had to be improved and the belfry floor repaired.

The church building is the responsibility of the Parochial Church Council or PCC, volunteers elected every year at the annual church meeting which you are entitled to attend. (This is entirely separate from the Parish Council, which is part of Local Government.) The "regulars" raise the £15,000, needed to keep the building open every year, by their weekly giving and from wedding and other fees, but they could not meet the additional cost of preserving the historic structure.

The PCC  applied for funding to English Heritage and various charities. Using money from English Heritage , the Thomas Freke and Lady Norton Charity and some of our own reserves £18,500 was spent in2013 on investigation by architects, structural engineers, surveyors and heritage and ecology experts. This  enabled detailed specifications to be drawn up and quotations obtained for the work needed to preserve the tower for the future .The essential immediately necessary work was £112,540.  £7,520 was till needed before work could  go ahead. ( February 2014)

Further gifts from villagers and worshipers  meant that other trust and foundations  offered additional grants. The PCC has underwrote the shortfall of about £1000 to allow the work  to start on Monday 28th April 2014.

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