It was great to visit St Mary Church in Banbury this morning to find out how they have been getting on. I enjoyed catching up with Reverend Jeff West who was grateful for the financial support the Church has received from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund which has helped keep them afloat through the pandemic.
St Mary’s have used the grant money to renovate the magnificent Grade 1-listed building and to carry out essential maintenance works. They have rebuilt their rainwater disposal and carried out works to the building’s east end, including the conservation of wall paintings. They have also built a new set of automatic doors at the entrance which is disabled-friendly.
It was great to hear that Church life is slowly returning to normal, with the resumption of weddings and funerals, as well as the much-loved coffee mornings which bring residents together and help tackle loneliness.
The Reverend informed me of the good news that next year will be the bicentenary of the building of the tower and portico in 1822, completing the construction of the Church. Next year, if all goes well, they are planning a summer-long arts festival running from April to October. Concerts, exhibitions, art installations and other events with place St Mary’s once again at the heart of cultural life in Banbury.
Reverend Jeff West said:
"We were very grateful for Victoria’s visit and for the opportunity to update her about St Mary’s."
"The cost of keeping St Mary’s open (excluding major repairs and conservation work) runs at around £2,000 a week, and lockdown, with the loss of much of our regular income, has given us serious financial problems. We were therefore grateful to receive a grant of £14,900, as part of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund, which has gone a small way to help us rebuild our reserves and keep us solvent."