THE community of Fugglestone Red and Wilton needs to find a quarter of a million pounds to save a 13th century church.
St Peter’s Church, which is on the roundabout between Salisbury and Wilton, is a historic listed building, and although the parish has tried to look after it, with no funds the church has deteriorated over time.
The church, which was poet and priest George Herbert’s parish church in the early 1630s, is unusual in that it still has gas lighting. Last May, an inspection showed there were several serious faults and the gas supply was immediately shut off. The church had to stop holding services at the end of summer when it became too dark and cold.
A meeting was held at Wilton Community Centre on Saturday to discuss how to move forward.
Revd Mark Wood told the packed room that, as well as the problems with the gas supply, the masonry of the south west buttress is poor and needs rebuilding and underpinning, the bell cote has hard mortar in danger of falling, the chancel and nave need repairs and the roof and flooring also need attention.
He said they have the work will cost an estimated £180,000, but allowing for ‘hidden extras’ a more realistic target would be £250,000. Before the church closed only about eight people attended services, so the possibility of selling the church was discussed as well as launching an appeal to try to raise the money.
People agreed they did not want the church to be sold, and were happy to consider redeveloping it for community use when services aren’t taking place.
Everyone agreed the parish should look into whether it could sell a piece of silverware owned by the church – an elaborate Elizabethan tankard given to the church in 1776 by the then rector, John Hawes.
Revd Wood said: “I think we all agree that it’s worth sacrificing something to save something else that’s precious.”
The Fugglestone Flagon, or Hawes’ Cup as it is also known, has been kept in Salisbury Cathedral since 1983 and was last valued at £275,000.