Villagers rally to save church from closure after restoring pub
Villagers in Essex are rallying to save their historic church from closure less than two years after they bought and restored the local pub.
The cost of maintaining and repairing St John the Baptist Church in Pebmarsh, near Sudbury, has become too much for the regular congregation and is under threat of closure and being sold off for conversion.
The Church of England looks to each parish to maintain their own church and the village receives no financial help in running costs.
A group has now been formed to raise funds to preserve and repair the fabric of the building and grounds, which was mentioned in the Doomsday Book, for the benefit of future generations in the village.
The first meeting of The Friends of Pebmarsh Church will take place on Wednesday, April 24 at 7.30pm in the village hall.
A letter has also been sent to every household in the village calling on them to attend and lend support by joining the group with a monthly subscription and assisting with fundraising.
Louise Bradley-Flack, committee member of the Friends of Pebmarsh Church, said: “Churches are an important part of the landscape – it’s part of what England is to many of us. Once a church closes its doors it’s lost for good. The Friends are here to purely raise funds for the building and maintenance costs to ensure it’s here for generations to come.”
Pebmarsh Pilgrims, led by parish councillor Perry Crimmins, will be taking on part of the famous Camino Frances ‘Way of St James’ walk to fundraise for the church from April 24 to May 2.
The walk, which has been a route for pilgrims since the ninth century, ends at the Cathedral of Santiago in Galicia, Spain.
The campaign to save the church comes after residents purchased the last surviving pub in the village – The King’s Head – in 2017.
After the previous owners retired in September 2016, the pub closed down was put on the market for sale.
But villagers backed a community ownership scheme with shares sold at £50 each and more than £300,000 was raised.
The project also received support from the Plunkett Foundation and Essex County Council, and the pub opened its doors once again in October 2017.
A further £35,000 project to replace the pub’s dilapidated roof was completed in November last year.