Open weekend to celebrate a job well done

Inside St James' Church, Shilbottle. The church has undergone major work, both inside and outside.
Inside St James' Church, Shilbottle. The church has undergone major work, both inside and outside.

Major repair and alteration work at a village church has been completed and an open weekend is being staged to celebrate.

The overhaul of St James’, Shilbottle, began last year, thanks to a £66,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and local donations.

The improvements include repairs to the tower roof and stonework; resurfaced paths leading up to new glass porch doors; an enlarged welcome area, with adjoining kitchen and toilet; and a versatile large open area in the centre of the church created by the removal of the little-used choir stalls.

There is also new moveable church furniture; the transept is separated from the main body of the church by a full height glass screen, fitted into the arch, which can be opened up; and newly-installed lighting.

The parochial church council believes the redevelopment has created an improved external approach and a more welcoming and flexible space within the church to help attract more people to experience the love of God in their lives and to benefit from the new facilities available for community use.

Project coordinator Chris Lendrum said: “What has been achieved is a testament to the benefit received from HLF players and to the generosity of local people who value our historic church as a sanctuary of worship and reflection and a place for community activity.

“It is now in excellent condition and ready for many more years of service to the people of this area.”

St James’ reopened its doors in time for Easter, much to the delight of joyful congregations who had crammed themselves into the small parish room since the New Year.

An open church weekend is being held from Saturday, May 5, to Monday, May 7, and everyone is welcome.

On the Saturday, there will be worship at 9am and 5.30pm, with messy church in the morning and afternoon tea (by ticket) in the afternoon.

On the Sunday, in addition to Family Communion at 10am and Holy Baptism at noon, a landmark rededication service led by Mark Tanner, Bishop of Berwick, will be held at 6pm, followed by refreshments.

On Monday, the church will be open for viewing/refreshments between 10am and 4pm, with worship at 9am and 5pm.