Since its foundation in 2003, the Friends of Shakespeare’s Church has raised over £1.2 million towards the conservation of the church and we have committed to raise a further £1 million over the next 5 years.
Projects which have been successfully funded to date include (click on the project and find our more):
- Repairs to the Chancel parapet and new grotesques erected
- Chancel Cross replaced on the roof
- Church tower and spire repaired and restored
- Cross, orb and weathervane on top of the Church spire repaired
- Clerestory windows repaired and major clean undertaken
- Chancel rook repaired
- Muniment room refurbishment
- North Transept restored
- Clopton Chapel restored and cleaned
- Repairs to South side stained-glass windows
- Conservation of Chancel monuments, including Shakespeare’s memorial
- Restoration of St Peter's Chapel
- Installation of new fabric in the historic Becket Chapel
- New curtains for the main doors
- Conservation of the Clopton hatchments in the North aisle
- Restoriation of the South Transept gable
Repairs made to the Chancel parapet and new grotesques erected
In 2003 the newly formed Friends received their charity status. It was an enormous challenge to raise funds for the crumbling and dangerous chancel parapet. The Trustees felt humbled as they witnessed a cascade of generous donations. Work began, with a £70,000 grant from the Friends, and then stopped as death watch beetle and dry rot were discovered. A further grant of £45,000 followed. Then in December 2004 we had a rainproof chancel for the first time in many years. As an added bonus there were four new grotesques carved from Woodkirk stone on the south chancel parapet. It was a glorious start.
Church Tower and Spire
Energetic fund raising followed. This and a grant from the Town Trust enabled the Friends to deliver the £320,000 needed for the work to be completed on time. The yellow Hornton ashlar masonry was repaired or replaced and a consolidating weather coat applied to all the stonework. “The tower and spire “seems to have a new magnificence,” said then Friends’ Chairman, Dr Philip Cheshire. The cross and weathervane on top of the spire were also repaired and the golden orb regilded thanks to a generous donation to the Friends from Bill Hicks, a trustee of FOSC.
Cross, orb and weathervane on top of the Church spire repaired
Thus, it was on Tuesday 3rd February 2004 that we were able to mark an important stage in the restoration work. A new cross, a copy of the original, was fixed into place. We were determined that, this time, it would remain in place for the next four hundred years. Modern building technology was there to help. A two meter long steed rod was drilled one metre deep into the historic plinth and secured with epoxy resin. Of course, traditional technology played a part too. The cross was hoisted 60 ft into position by an old fashioned winch and blessed by the vicar the Revd. Martin Gorick. The placement of the new cross not only restored the historic view from across the River Avon.
North Clerestory windows repaired and major clean undertaken
Muniment room refurbishment
The restoration has revealed some of the old church artefacts, some beautiful memorials and allows light to flood in from the stained-glass windows. It also included a new chandelier – one that has now been mirrored by the restoration in the South Transept. While the North transept remains closed to the public, it is planned those funds raised by the Friends will allow this to be opened again be opened again.
Clopton Chapel Restoration
South Side Windows
Many of the panels were faded, cracked, or broken altogether, and all required expert cleaning. It was during this restoration that a glorious stained glass image – unseen for more than 100 years – was rediscovered. Once part of the Becket Chapel, the window had been boarded up with a steel sheet in 1898 to accommodate pipework for the newly-installed organ. Thereafter only a tantalising glimpse of colour was visible from the outside wall and some pieces of the glass had clearly been broken or fallen out. The “lost” image The Mocking of Christ, contained in a lower panel, is deeply moving, showing tears and the depth of pain on Christ’s face. The restored window is now a prominent feature of the church’s new South-side extension.