As a Grade II* listed building, all repairs to St Mary’s church are subject to strict conditions. These are to ensure that any materials used and changes made do not damage the unique features and historic value of the building. This often means that the cost of repairs can be expensive.

In order to cover these costs, the Parochial Church Council (PCC) frequently has to seek grants and donations to supplement what it can contribute from its own budget. This article describes some of the grants that have been obtained over the last few years and the charitable trusts and individual donations which have contributed to the repair costs.

Replacement of boiler and installation of kitchen hot water heater (2018)

Allchurches Trust Limited owns the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group and was founded in 1972. The Trust is one of the UK’s largest grant-making charities. The Trust supports the repair, restoration, protection and improvement of church buildings, cathedrals and other places of Christian worship, especially where those changes support wider community use. The Trust awarded the parish a grant of £1,150 towards the cost of the replacement boiler.

Another grant of £1,000 came from the Laing Family Trusts. These are a group of four grant-making trusts with a Christian foundation. The Trusts owe their origin to Sir John Laing, a devout Christian and founder of the international construction company.

The Diocese of Sheffield has a Grants Committee which supports parishes by awarding grants for various initiatives including evangelical, numerical growth; capital items; building refurbishment; events and activities linked to people & community engagement; Mission promotion; and one-off and annual staff costs. The Committee awarded us a £3,000 grant and £2,000 loan for the boiler replacement.

Roof Repairs (2018/2019)

There have been a few repairs needed to different parts of the roof and to the tower over recent years. The PCC was able to cover the cost of these from their general budget and with donations from individual church members.

Emergency Lighting (2019)

Following a safety inspection by the Fire Service, the building’s emergency lighting system needed to be replaced. A grant of £987 was awarded by the Diocesan Grants Committee and a grant of £487 by the Sheffield Church Burgesses Trust. This Trust, established over 450 years ago, helps to fund repairs in four Church of England deaneries in Sheffield. The Trust also supports organisations working for the needy and the deprived, the elderly, the marginalised and for the revitalisation of inner city communities.

Churchyard Trees (2018/2019)

There are several large trees in our churchyard. These need inspection and trimming from time to time. Occasionally, a tree may need urgent removal as a result of decay, especially following stormy weather. This was the case in 2019 when a very tall beech tree was in danger of falling. Thanks to donations from local community group such as the Beighton Community Partnership and Beighton Village Development Trust; from Sheffield City Council: and, from individuals and neighbours of the church, the PCC was able to cover the cost of removing the beech.

Maintenance of the churchyard (ongoing)

The PCC has been helped to maintain the churchyard with the regular support of Community Payback. This group, mainly of young people, cuts and clears the grass and removes vegetation from around the churchyard monuments. Also a small number of individual church members have regularly mowed and strimmed the grass.

Conservation of Medieval Grave Cover (2019-2020)

Following the discovery of a medieval grave cover in the churchyard, a grant of £300 was obtained from Churchcare for a conservation report. This is an important first step in preserving the stones leading eventually to their display and interpretation. Churchcare is the Church of England’s national resource giving support to all those in parishes, dioceses and cathedrals caring for their buildings. During 2020, Churchcare helped fund projects in 260 churches and chapels and awarded £1.7million for urgent repairs, new facilities and project development.

Repair of Churchyard Retaining Wall (ongoing)

This is long-standing project aiming to repair a large section of this historic stone wall on the western boundary of the churchyard. The problem was first identified around 10 years ago and a restrictive fund was formed to raise the high amount needed for the repair. Many people have contributed to this over the years and we are now aiming to complete the repair by the summer of 2021.

Essential Repairs to the Building Exterior (2020 – 2021)

Like all historic churches, St Mary is inspected every 5 years by a qualified surveyor or architect. This leads to a report that lists issues needing attention set out in order of priority. Our last report identified a number of small-scale but urgent repairs needed to the walls and tower. In order to pay for these, grants were obtained from a number of sources: Sheffield Diocese Grant Committee (£3,000); Sheffield Church Burgesses Trust (£6,700); and Yorkshire Historic Churches Trust (£3,000).

The Yorkshire Historic Churches Trust (YHCT) is a non-denominational charity whose objective is to help churches in Yorkshire through offering grants for repairs and maintenance. The YHCT was founded in 1988 and since then has funded around £3 million worth of grants to more than 800 churches in Yorkshire.

We are very grateful for the generosity of all the charitable trusts that have provided funding for building repairs. Without them, the parish could simply not afford the repairs. We are also very thankful for the support we receive from individual people who have given freely of their time (and the time of family members on occasion) to repair and maintain the building. Some individuals have also generously donated money especially for specific or urgent repairs or for items needed by the church.

We are blessed that St Mary’s church is such a wonderful, inspiring and historically interesting building. We know that a church has existed on this site for well over 900 years. By the grace of God, it will be here for the next 900 years and more.