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PRESS RELEASE: Bebington Mediaeval Church gets big Heritage boost

Major roof repairs to St Andrew’s Church, Bebington have received a huge boost with a Heritage Lottery Fund grant totalling £223,700, which will enable the work to commence in March 2018 and be completed by November 2018.

For some years rainwater has been entering the church through failures in the roof coverings and drainage systems causing decay in structural timbers and damage to historic artifacts, pews and floor coverings. Investigations identified the need for major repairs with over 50% of the roof slate covering to be replaced plus stonework and gutter repairs. The overall cost of the work is £416,000.

A Grade 1 Listed building, the church has been at the centre of Bebington life for over 900 years, with much of the existing building dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries. The prime role of the building has always been as a place of Christian worship, but over the years the church has had a major role in local community life, for example in the seventeenth century the church was responsible for the poor of the parish and in 1718 St Andrew’s School, founded in 1655, used the Belfry as a classroom. Today the church continues to offer Christian services on a Sunday in both traditional and family friendly styles and provides or facilitates community activities throughout the week as well as services to the parish by conducting weddings, baptisms and funerals.

The HLF grant will also enable a Community Heritage Project to be implemented. The Church is keen to share the many features of the building’s heritage and its longstanding role in the local community. A package of measures is proposed that will include regular opening times to provide access to a heritage exhibition, guided tours and church records, a heritage website plus educational fun trails for youngsters.  There are many personal stories of people associated with the church across the years that have enriched this heritage and are of interest to all ages. The church would really like to hear of your life events that have involved St Andrew’s and can be contacted on 0151 645 6478 or via the contact page on the church website: www.standrewsbebington.org.uk.

Above all, the church wishes to welcome those longstanding residents of the town and beyond, who say from time to time “St Andrew’s? Do you know I’ve never had occasion to go into that church!”

Commenting on the award, the Rev David Vestergaard, Rector of the church, said “We’re delighted that we have received this support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The church has been at the centre of the community for centuries, witnessing to our faith and impacting on many local family lives, and it is great to know we are close to preserving it to help us continue our work and witness for another century”.

 

Notes for the Editor:

About the Church

The building was built for and by the Parishioners of the five townships of Bebington Parish which originally consisted of Tranmere, Higher Bebington, Lower Bebington, Storeton and Spital cum Poulton.

Today the Church is the focus for Anglican Christian Worship for a significant population, centred on Bebington, with a vision to be a Christ-Centred Family Sharing God’s Love.

St. Andrew’s Church, Bebington is a grade one listed building within the Lower Bebington Conservation Area. It has a prominent position on a rise to the south edge of the village where it has stood for over 900 years.

The original parish, bounded on the eastern side by the River Mersey covered an area of 8.5 square miles. During the 19 / 20th Centuries as many as ten churches were created to serve an ever increasing population. Most of these were then formed into Parishes in their own right, with the Mother Church of St. Andrew’s, remaining as focus for Anglican Christian Worship for a significant population, centered on Bebington.

Our vision is to be a Christ-Centred Family Sharing God’s Love. Our current activities include:

  • Worship for an electoral roll of over 350, with the Register of Services indicating an average of around 230 people attending a range of weekly Sunday services including Holy Communion, all age and Family Services and a varied programme of evening services. Major festivals of Christmas, Easter and Harvest attract many additional people from the local community and beyond. Our church school, St. Andrew’s Primary School makes a significant contribution to our services as do local youth uniformed organisations. As active members of the local Churches Together partnership the church is regularly used to host joint events and services.
  • Community: The church also has strong links with the other primary school and the two Grammar Schools in the parish and we host all four school’s Carol services for pupils and parents in the weeks before Christmas. Open days and fayres are also held on a regular basis i.e. Summer and Christmas, across our two sites i.e. Church and Hall. The Church is always open for these event with heritage information and tours available. We have a fine pipe organ, and the excellent acoustics lend themselves to use for musical and theatrical events of a high standard: recent months have seen Stuart Townend and a local community choir holding concerts. In addition our Church Hall is heavily used by community and youth groups who often have special services in Church e.g. Brownies Christingle service.
  • Heritage: We support and participate in Wirral History and Heritage Associations annual event of Wirral Heritage Open Days again with ad-hoc heritage information and tours available. The church having been the centre of the community over many centuries attracts visitors tracing family histories and ad hoc tours are regularly provided. In addition a Heritage Trail for Bebington created by the Bebington Group of the Family History Society has being created with St. Andrew’s as a key location to visit and will be used to promote our proposed Church Heritage experience. We actively support the Lower Bebington Conservation Area recently formed by Wirral Council, with a member of the church on the management committee.

The recent quinquennial inspection identified major failures in the roof coverings and parapet gutters causing leaks into the interior and decay to structural timbers. Urgent repair works were recommended to stabalise roof structures and to prevent further ingress of water causing damage to internal fabric and the potential to restrict access.

Our project aims to complete these essential repairs and also to promote the heritage of the church through a permanent exhibition, heritage literature and educational packages incorporating fun trails and the latest communication technology. Additional aspects will include training opportunities and an enhanced concert programme. The beneficiaries of the project will be the local community including schools, and visitors.

 

About Heritage Lottery Fund

The Grants for Places of Worship, England applications are assessed in two rounds. A first-round pass is given when HLF have endorsed outline proposals and earmarked funding. A first-round pass may also include an immediate award to fund the development of the project. Detailed proposals are then considered by HLF at second round and as long as plans are progressed satisfactorily and according to the original proposals, an award for the project is confirmed.   We have completed the second phase and full funding is now confirmed.