Heritage Lottery Fund Tower Restoration and Heritage Project
At the previous Quinquennial Inspection of the church building it was found that the upper sections of the tower and parapet needed re-pointing and some of the stonework of the buttresses, windows and ornamental frieze needed replacing. A little while after this, it was found that fragments of masonry were falling from the tower making it necessary to erect a scaffold platform below to protect people passing by.
To raise the large sum required the Parochial Church Council (PCC) decided to apply to the Heritage Lottery Fund for support. The application also included an activity plan aimed at improving access to, and appreciation of our church heritage. A grant of £55,600 (73% of the project costs) was awarded. Permission to start was received in January 2015.
The repairs were carried out by A J Restoration Co Ltd under the direction of the project architect. The work also included sealing splits in the lead roof, fitting new drainpipes and making access to the roof safer. Historic England also requested two newly carved panels to be placed in the frieze to show how it would have looked originally. These can be seen on the north face of the tower. Scaffolding went up in March and the work was completed by the end of July 2015.
Terry Sheppard, who has extensively researched the history of the church and Rothley, provided inspiration for much of the activity plan. Each year there is a varied programme of events organised around the four Quarter Days when the tithe was paid in medieval times. Events during 2015 and 2016 have included a guest lecturer on local archaeology and a talk by Terry on the history and break up of Rothley Temple Estate. Also there have been performances by professional music groups including a candle-lit concert of baroque music for Christmas featuring Medea Bindewald on harpsichord. In October 2015 there was a harvest festival event featuring produce grown in Rothley including wine from Rothley Wine Estate (formerly Kingfishers’ Pool Vineyard) and a fruit press to make juice from local apples. As part of the project, a state of the art, online, virtual tour of the church with 360 HD Tours, informative pop-ups and an audio summary has been created. Some of the church’s historic records of interest to researchers and schools have been digitised and are available through links on the History page.
Overall the activity plan has been very successful in making the church building a place of heritage enjoyed by more people either in person or through the website. The PCC has appointed Terry as Church Heritage Representative and Charles Poole as his deputy and they will maintain the Quarter Day programme and activity plan in the years to come.