Queen donates to help church project

The Oxford Times: From left are Dr Jeanette Cayley, secretary of the project, Rev Dr Brian Ford, Peter Durrant, clerk of works, Nicky Bentley, church warden and her husband Simon Bentley, treasurer. Pictures: OX63571 Simon Willi Buy this photo From left are Dr Jeanette Cayley, secretary of the project, Rev Dr Brian Ford, Peter Durrant, clerk of works, Nicky Bentley, church warden and her husband Simon Bentley, treasurer. Pictures: OX63571 Simon Willi

IT has taken 10 years to complete and has even attracted the attention of the Queen.

But St Michael and All Angel’s Church in Leafield, near Witney, has now been fitted with a new £300,000 roof.

The leaking roof at the 153-year old church has been replaced with new stone tiles.

Leafield associate priest Reverend Dr Brian Ford said it had taken a lot of hard work to renovate the “architectural gem”.

He said: “It has taken us ten years to get to this point. It took seven years for us to get permission, two years to raise the funds and seven months to finish the building work, during which the time the building was closed.

“It is a place we want to make more available to the community seven days a week.

Jeanette Cayley, secretary of the Project St Michael Steering Committee, which led the fundraising drive, said: “It is a terrific improvement. The church is already warmer and drier which is perfect timing before Christmas and winter.”

The landmark building, which was designed by architect George Gilbert Scott, who was also responsible for Christ Church in Oxford and St Pancras station in London, was preserved by a mix of donations and grants.

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This included £184,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £50,000 from Waste Recycling and Environmental Limited (WREN) and £15,000 from the Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust.

The rest of the £300,000 was raised by villagers, as well as a special donation from Queen Elizabeth II.

In May last year, the Project St Michael Steering Committee wrote to the Queen to tell her about the appeal.

The Queen said she was “very interested” to hear about the project and gave a cheque for an undisclosed amount from her privy purse charitable trust.

This was not the first time a monarch had helped the historic church. In 1887, Queen Victoria gave a tenor bell to the church as part of her Golden Jubilee celebrations.

Plans are in place to provide the interior of the church with the space and facilities to make it a welcoming community centre.

Dr Ford said: “The building holds about 500 people and we want to create more space, including two toilets at the back of the church, a new kitchen and a meeting room.

“We estimate this will cost another £200,000 to £300,000. We’ll be meeting next week will discuss the next stage of funding.”

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