A website dedicated to uncovering the wonders of the UK’s sacred heritage has recognised St Alban’s Church as one such wonder. We already knew that of course, but it’s really good to know that other people think that too.
Explore churches is supported by National Churches Trust, who helped in part to finance the first phase of our Jewel in the Town restoration project.
Visit the website and have a look at how they describe the beautiful building we get to worship in every week.
Does anyone in the parish have stories about our football team? We’d love to know more about the kit and where they played. Were they any good? Get in touch if you have any information!
Despite fears over reduced funding at the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), we were thrilled to hear in August that
we had been awarded a grant of £170,000 from the HLF for Round Two Delivery Stage of our Tower Project to secure the
roof and stonework of the tower, prevent water penetration, make maintenance easier and safer and to protect the
structure for future generations. We are now preparing all the formal documentation to obtain permission from the
HLF to actually start the work on the tower. All being well, it is likely that scaffolding will start to be erected
from the middle of September; this will be sheeted to a height of 5 metres and the site will be alarmed. The organ
will be protected with its own ‘mini-scaffold’ with sheeting. ‘Dilapidations’ reports will be conducted to record
the condition of the site, building and the organ in advance of the works. The building work will probably commence
in October and the continue until Spring 2019. Access to the church via the main entrance will remain open during
building works via a ‘tunnel’ under the scaffold on the outside of the tower. There will no longer be access to the
organ loft via the internal tower door once scaffolding starts. In fact, the main contractor Lloyd and Smith, will
‘take over’ this part of the site and we will require permission to access. The Narthex itself should still be freely
The church can still function as normal while the scaffolding is up and building work is going on, but it will not be looking its best! The contractors are used to working on churches and will work around services and funerals. Their working hours are generally 7.30am-4.30pm. They will use the parish car park to park their vans while working during the week, but the cabin(s) will probably be situated on the hard standing near the West porch; this is to be confirmed. Storage of any materials on-site will be avoided, but there will be some disruption in adjoining roads when materials are off-loaded. A letter of apology has been drafted to distribute to all the local residents to explain the situation. Lloyd and Smith will carry out a general ‘tidy -up’ at the end of each day and do a more thorough clean every Friday. Work is already very well advanced on our activities to engage with our local community and to attract visitors from further afield; this includes: a Tower Project exhibition for the Heritage Open Days (15-16 September 2018), a virtual tour online and a commemorative project on St Alban’s parishioners who fought and died in WW2. We will keep you advised of progress, but should you have any questions or concerns, please do not approach the contractors directly, but rather, speak to Fr Peter or Kirstin Bisgood-Smith.
Meeting with Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to finalise formal permission to start capital works on the tower
Clear the outside of the church tower and West porch prior to scaffold works and placement of contractor cabin(s)
Letter to local residents apologising for the inconvenience of the building works Scaffold erection around the whole tower; provisional start 10th Sept
Protection of the organ prior to building works
Tower Project Exhibition at Heritage Open Day 15/16 Sept
Display of winning entries for Tower Colouring & Design Competition
Tour of the tower for winners of Tower Colouring & Design Competition
Virtual Tour of St Alban’s available on website
Press release on Jewel in the Town to local press
Contractors begin work on the Tower
St Alban's is now well and truly on the map! Visitors to Macclesfield Visitor Information Centre will now find our beautiful church marked as a special place to visit in Macclesfield.
After the opening prayer of the recent Tower Project meeting, Fr Peter reminded those who gathered that the project
to bring our church back into good order was not only for our benefit, but for our town, county AND country. Such is the
importance of AW Pugin’s work.
The meeting heard that the development stage of the project was now coming to an end with the tender process for suitable contractors completed. The work is due to start towards the end of July, if all goes to plan, and the tower will be swathed in scaffolding until next spring. We will still be able to use the front door, however, it may look different! Parishioner and local project lead, Kirstin Bisgood-Smith told everyone how the development stage had resulted in the selection of a contractor with an excellent reputation for restoration work of the kind we need and mercifully, they tendered the best quote. Kirstin also took the meeting through the figures, explaining that we will be able to reclaim the VAT on the works. The tables show the costs (excluding VAT) involved in both the development and delivery stages and where the funding has come from to make the restoration a reality.
The development stage has gone according to plan and the team is confident that the money for the second stage will be released by the Heritage Lottery Fund so that the work can begin.
Fr Peter and the team are indebted to all those who have supported the project financially through Our Mission Together and the surplus from the weekly collection held in the St Alban’s Diocesan Fund which was needed to take the income ‘over the line’. The willingness of St Alban’s parishioners to support the project, undoubtedly helped to secure the grants from Heritage Lottery Fund and the National Churches Trust. Disruption to our Masses and celebrations will be kept to an absolute minimum, but watch this space for further updates.
Back in 2017, we applied to the National Churches Trust for a grant of £10,000 to help us fund the delivery of our tower
restoration project. This grant formed an important part of our project budget. We are thrilled to announce that we have now
been awarded this grant. And it comes with a celebrity endorsement from none other than journalist, newsreader and church
architecture enthusiast, Huw Edwards.
The National Churches Trust will be issuing a press release shortly so you may read about it in other publications. St Alban's, Macclesfield is one of 55 churches and chapels in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland that are set to benefit from rescue funding of £425,183 from the National Churches Trust, the UK’s church support charity.
Huw Edwards, Broadcaster and Journalist and Vice-President of the National Churches Trust said: “At the heart of communities in cities, towns and villages, churches are a treasure trove of architecture, history and faith. "I’m delighted that the church of St Alban’s in Macclesfield is to be saved for the future with the help of a £10,000 National Churches Trust Repair Grant...This will help ensure the future of this historic church, one of AWN Pugin’s early architectural masterpieces”. Fr Peter added: "We are delighted to have been awarded this grant from the NCT which will enable the work to restore our church tower and save its roof from collapse to begin as soon as possible. “We are profoundly grateful at St Alban's, to be able to worship in such a beautiful and significant church. We are keenly aware of our responsibility to maintain this 'Jewel in the Town' not only for future generations of worshippers, but for Macclesfield and Cheshire and the protection of England’s historic architecture. We really appreciate all the support we have received for our project, and we look forward to welcoming many more visitors to delight in AWN Pugin’s creation".
The National Churches Trust exists to support churches, chapels and meeting houses so that they remain at the heart of the communities for which they were built and can continue to play an integral part in all our lives. As an independent charity which receives no financial support from government, the National Churches Trust remains reliant on the generosity and support of donors to carry out their work.
As recipients of a grant from the NCT, we have been asked whether our parishioners would consider supporting the National Churches Trust in their work by becoming a Friend for £30pa, making a donation, volunteering, attending an event, spreading the word about their work, or simply by enjoying visiting churches in your spare time (website: www.nationalchurchestrust.org). If you are interested in supporting the National Churches Trust in some way, please contact: Kirstin Bisgood-Smith.
St Alban's is one of fifty-five churches to benefit from a National Churches Grant. The grant will be used to save the tower from falling down - Full article.
We submitted our detailed specification of works for approval by the Diocese, Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the
Historic Churches Commission (planning approval for places of worship) earlier in March and are awaiting feedback.
A team from the Historic Churches Commission will be visiting the church to assess the works during early April.
We then need to tender the works and select a shortlist of companies for further approval by Dioceses and HLF. Thereafter, the next stage is to apply for approved funding from the HLF for the actual work itself; the Delivery Stage. We are really thrilled to report however, that our application for an additional £10k of funding that we had budgeted for from the National Churches Trust has just been approved.
This will all take some time to process and we hope to have a final decision from the HLF to proceed with the Delivery Stage towards the end of this summer. After this the project really becomes more visible, but more on that another time!
We are still working on our Community Activities in the background. We have a great team, but we are all volunteers and would really welcome some more help in a number of areas, for example, could you help us with....
• Typing up a transcript from an 'in-house' video tour that Fr Peter has undertaken for the project?
• Donating a 'footfall clicker' to use across the main front door, to help us track the number of visitors into the church across a specified period of time. This forms the starting point for measuring an increase in visitors once we have put all our Community Activities in place?
• Liaising with the tourist information office, local council, local interest groups to seek their support in our project and help raise the profile of our church?
If you can help with any of the above requests or in any way at all, please contact Kirstin Bisgood-Smith if you think you could help us with any of the above, or would like to join the team.
Your support and prayers are much appreciated. Thank you. Tower Project Team
Since our last tower restoration update, the teams have been busy behind the scenes progressing both the building
work and the community activity elements of the Project.
There have been a large number of contractors visiting the church over the past month in order to carry out exploratory surveys to provide us with information to put together a more detailed specification of works. This will be submitted shortly for approval by the Diocese, Heritage Lottery Fund and the Historic Churches Commission (the equivalent of the Council planning department, but for places of worship).
Only once the specification is approved can we then move on to prepare the tender for the work and start thinking about applying for the second part of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant for the Delivery Stage.
The community activity team has also been working in the background on the three activities we have proposed to the HLF as part of the project in order to raise the profile of our beautiful and significant Grade II* listed church among the wider community in Macclesfield and beyond.
The team has been working on gathering footage and information to begin developing a ‘virtual tour’ of the church. Specialist companies are being identified and quotes are being sought.
Volunteers are also slowly cataloguing all the artefacts and memorabilia related to our church to allow us to develop a carefully structured archive of this material that we can then share with other interested parties and use within our parish.
Our photographers within the parish have also been hard at work in various nooks and crannies capturing, in photographs, all the areas that we are going to repair, in order to provide a record of our progress for the HLF and for our exhibition.
We are also planning activities that would allow us to involve our schools and younger parishioners in the Tower Project; our Confirmation candidates have been very helpful with their suggestions for activities. We would be keen to hear from anyone who could assist us in this area. We are grateful to all those involved in the Tower Project for their help, time and expertise. Thank you to you all for your ongoing prayers in support of our project.
You will remember our Tower Project and the plans to repair the rotting roof timbers in the church tower - to bring it
into a safe and watertight condition. Finally, we are pleased to announce that our grant application to the Heritage
Lottery Fund for a grant of £200,000 has been approved and that we have now been given formal permission to go ahead with
the project. A stipulation of having this grant was to demonstrate that we, as parishioners and therefore direct
beneficiaries, would provide match-funding for the project. Therefore, huge thanks is due to each and every one of you who,
18 months ago, began donating to this project through Our Mission Together, raising to date £54,000. It was this
demonstration (and the hard work carried out by Fr Peter and fellow parishioner Kirstin Bisgood-Smith) of how committed we
all are to this church, that convinced the Heritage Lottery Fund that we were a safe place to invest their grant monies.
We are now at the beginning of the Development Stage, so there won't be much to see initially. We will need to conduct a number of investigative surveys to help us prepare a more detailed plan of works which then need to be approved by both the Diocese and the Heritage Lottery Fund before we can even tender for contractors. It will probably in the middle of next year before we see any of the scaffolding go up. Apart from the physical works, there are also plans to raise the profile of the church and document the recent history of our beautiful building, designed by renowned architect AW Pugin, who went on to design that place you may have heard of, the Palace of Westminster.
The project will put St Alban’s on the map and ensure all the residents of Macclesfield know what an architectural jewel they have in their town.
Many thanks to the enthusiastic volunteers who have already joined the Project Team and who are working hard behind the scenes on developing our community activities to support the project. There is however, always room for more volunteers to help make our plans a reality - all help is gratefully received. The Project Team will provide more detailed information at our Parish Meeting on 14th November and further updates will be available as the project progresses.
Thank you all for your ongoing prayers and support.
May God continue to bless our wonderful church and all who worship Him there.
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