East Grinstead is rich in historic buildings. The most prominent and historic is the Parish Church of St Swithun’s . The earliest document mentioning the Church is dated 1078, but given the dedication to Swithun, a 9th Century Saxon Bishop and Saint, it is likely that there was a Church on the site before the Norman conquest of 1066.
Such an inheritance should not be taken for granted for in 1684 the tower was felled by lightning. Some 100 years later the replacement collapsed due to shoddy workmanship and neglect, destroying the Church beneath.
A new Church designed by the Royal Surveyor James Wyatt was rebuilt on the existing stonework and that, with the later internal additions, is what today’s generation has inherited, along with history’s warning against complacency or neglect.
Whilst the Parish Church’s primary purpose is as a worshipping centre for the Anglican community of the Church of England, it is also a public building at the heart of East Grinstead forming a community asset used by families for Weddings, Baptisms, Funerals, civic events, concerts, exhibitions and many other activities.
The Restoration Trust
The Restoration Trust was set up in 1979. It is independent of the Church of England and its sole purpose is to preserve and maintain the structure and fabric of the Church building. It is a registered charity with its finances separate from those of the Church Council.
Since its foundation the Trust has spent over half a million pounds on repair and restoration work including stained glass windows, recasting the bells, roof and wall renovation. But the work continues: Climate Change has led to increased warming and torrential rainfalls that have caused damage to the porous stone blocks that make up the building.
Renovation and repair work is undertaken by skilled craftsmen due to the historical significance of the building. This all takes a great deal of money.
The congregation of the Church give over £100,000 per annum towards the general running expenses such as heating, lighting, clergy and lay costs. They cannot also finance expensive works of restoration against the ravages of time unless the rest of the community helps.
How can you help?
We need funds for work that is underway, work that is needed and also to prevent further damage occurring.
There are many ways you can give to the Trust- we are a registered charity (number 279191). All monies that you give can only be used for the restoration of this fine building.
We welcome one off contributions or regular contributors. If you are an individual tax payer you can donate a lump sum or regular payments and the Trust can claim back the tax through ‘Gift Aid’, this gives an extra 28% towards the work.
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