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WW1 Bid

 Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded us £9,400 to proceed with the project below!


For 95 years two framed documents have been on the walls of the North Transept of St Mary’s. They are The Roll of Honour and the Record of Sacrifice, the latter containing original photographs of the Leighton Lads that gave their lives for our Country. Unfortunately, the cold and damp have severely damaged them and they were removed and sent to a conservator for assessment some time ago. It has been confirmed that they can be restored reasonably well and the plan is for them to be conserved and the originals lodged with the County Records Office where they can be safely kept and for facsimiles to be returned to the Church. However, the cost is quite high and we are, therefore, applying for a Heritage Lottery Grant under their First World War: Then and Now programme.

 In order to be successful in our bid we need to also to involve the community and the current idea is for an exhibition of villagers First World War Medals to be held in all the churches in the Benefice starting on Remembrance Sunday 2018 when it is hoped that the medals will be worn at the re-dedication of the facsimiles.

As all those who lost their lives cycled to the Recruiting Centre in Huntingdon a commemorative ride will take place in the summer.

 If anybody has relative’s medals from the First World War, please feel free to contact me at, the plan is to photograph the medals showing the relationship with the holder and the current relative and then displaying them. There will be group access to ‘’ to seek further information.

Statement of Need

St Mary’s the Virgin, Leighton Bromswold

Our Vision

There has been a gradual increase in the congregation over recent years and our vision is to see St Mary’s transformed into a warm, welcoming facility used by the whole community on a regular basis and to open the church to a wider audience because of its significant historical interest.

Lighting and Heating 
Although St Mary’s has served the parish since the 13th century the needs of the current community are not fully realised.

In 1902 a wood burner was installed under the nave with warm-air outlets along the centre line. This was de-commissioned in 1952 when simple tubular electric heaters installed under the majority of pews and later radiant heaters added to the chancel walls. These were all disconnected in 1990.

At the same time the old electric candelabra lighting was replaced by ugly sodium street-type lights without faculty.

The congregation for normal services has been increasing over the last few years and the Harvest Festival (complete with sit-down lunch), Remembrance and Carol Service attracts over 100 very cold people. 

It is, therefore, essential that heating is restored to St Mary’s not only for the congregation but also to support the use of the church for community purposes which would be especially valuable since the village does not have a village hall. In addition, the fabric of the church is being compromised and various surveys have strongly recommended some form of background heating.

Background heating, by way of traditional methods or ground source is expensive and though desirable is regarded as slightly longer term when funds are sufficient and grants obtained. 
Direct heating is proposed in two phases, the first would be three installations in the Chancel with the removal of the six broken wall infra-red units. They would be installed on the existing 1878 chandelier fixing points on beams (see plate 5)

The design would be an exact copy of those installed in April 2011 in King's Lynn Minster and would consist of an engraved frame with six uplighters, six downlighters and six modern, controllable infra-red heaters. This would enable regular services to be conducted in a heated area.

The next phase would be to continue installation down the nave with three on either side giving a total, when completed of nine units and the total removal of the industrial sodium lighting returning the church to a more suitable interior. 

Although three phase electricity is installed in the church, only one phase is connected necessitating the installation of a new distribution box and switching. The poor existing lighting wiring would be removed and replaced with modern, safe pyro wiring together with the total removal of the non-working tubular heaters.

Removal of Pews

Again this is proposed in two phases.

At the west end of the nave are three rows of Victorian seating on either side of the nave to the rear of the font. They do not match the Jacobean pews in the nave and they, and the plinth, are in very poor condition. It has been recommended that they are removed in all the recent surveys and in the latest Quinquennial report from 2012.

There are also four children’s pews that are not fixed down. These are inappropriately sized and positioned as they do not provide children with a good view of the proceedings and are of no historic interest. These therefore would, therefore, be surplus to requirements. 

The proposal is not to replace the pews but to re-tile the area (at present the pews are mounted on a 19th century plinth directly on to earth) and this will give an assembly meeting and performance area.

The area would also be used for the serving of tea, coffee and refreshments which is a feature of every service held in St Mary’s.

The second phase is to move the front, Jacobean, pews on either side of the eastern end of the nave and the removal, and disposal, of the next two rows of pews that were installed by the Victorians. The original 17th century front pews would then be repositioned at the front of the remaining pews.

The existing plinth under all the seating in the nave extends into the aisle to accommodate old wiring but they are unsightly, in need of repair and a trip hazard It is recommended they are removed and the whole area then re-tiled.

This would then return the whole of the nave to Jacobean furniture and would, therefore, be unique in England with both original Jacobean seating and pulpits.

The space would enable more flexibility in worship by creating space in front of the chancel step. It would allow the band which plays at many of the services room to perform and also for drama to take place more easily and make the pews wheel-chair accessible. 
First-time Facilities.  

At the present time, we have sufficient power to operate a couple of urns and at most events serve refreshments. However, there is no water or drainage installed within the church although there is a metered tap by the Lych gate

We consider that the installation of mains water from this point to the Tower is essential in order to have an operating kitchen and a run of kitchen units and work top have been installed without fixing to the structure.

We have also examined the possibility of installing a wheel-chair accessible toilet unit in the North Porch which is currently unused by the public and locked. However it has proved to be too small and not on the same level as the nave.

It is proposed, therefore, to construct a screen across the south transept using the woodwork that currently constitutes the vestry. The current L shape would need to be straightened and this would entail a gap on the north end of the screen which is wide enough for a disabled door with a clear 2.0 metre straight entry run .

A vestry and disable toilet (without an access problems) would then utilise the space with a low angled roof rising from the top of the vestry screen to just below the east window to ensure privacy.

This would then necessitate the removal of three rows of Victorian seating in the South Transept

As it is not possible to connect the church to main sewerage it is proposed to construct a trench arch method of removing fouled water including the drainage from the kitchen, which subject to percolation and archaeological test and environmental approval would extend due east from the south transept where there are no graves or trees.

In the past, for major events, we have hired portaloos adjacent to the North Porch, which are expensive and unsightly. 

The kitchen would be wholly situated in the tower and by locating it on the south wall, could not be seen even with the tower screen door open.

The Tower, whose windows were probably designed by Indigo Jones and none of that deign existing in England beforehand, has a screen which would need to be extended to the arch line as has been done in other churches nearby. This would be a later phase.

Community Use

Leighton Bromswold does not have a village hall and there is no possibility of building, or running, one.

Although a small village, the Leighton Bromswold Parochial Council and the Leighton Bromswold Social Committee organise over a dozen events a year and many of their events could be held in St Mary’s. 
To test the feasibility as a performance space, in May 2011 the world-famous Fitzwilliam Quartet played a recital to an audience of 130 local people, though at the present time larger performances could not be accommodated.

There is also a full capacity annual ‘Music and Verse Festival’, a Dawn Easter Sunday Service for the benefice, Harvest Lunch, the Annual Gidding Pilgrimage starts from St Mary’s and a September outdoor service is held in addition to the other events mentioned.

The village has an active Life Group which holds some of its services and meetings in the church. A regular youth service was discontinued in part due to the cold conditions.

These proposals would make St Mary’s a more valuable community resource.