The community and parishioners of Newtown on the Isle of Wight have launched a fundraising drive to pay for much-needed repairs to the historic Church of the Holy Spirit in the centre of this scenic village.
The church — adjacent to the Newtown National Nature Reserve — is a focal point for the village and much visited by local residents and off-island visitors.
The church, built in 1837 on the site of an ancient chapel, has suffered subsidence from its footings in clay soil.
Large cracks line two walls, and the windows have become insecure. Residents fear that if repairs are not made urgently, the church will fall into ruin.
Church officials have obtained a detailed proposal and schedule of works by structural engineers Pritchard Wilmott and architect ERMC.
The total cost of repairs is estimated at almost £90,000.
A fundraising plea to local residents and parishioners has raised more than £40,000 from concerned individuals, and the church will dedicate its own £45,000 building fund to the project.
Only a few thousand remain to be raised but no work can begin until sufficient funds are in place.
The church plays an important role in the community, where local residents often meet, and it is an active place of worship with two regular services held every month.
Newtown, formerly Francheville (free town) in the middle ages, was once a thriving centre of commerce and trade on the island because of its enviable natural harbour.
It has a unique place in history as a “rotten” borough that was allowed to send two members of Parliament to Westminster.
By 1636, however, the village was in decline and the chapel, built in the 1400s, was in ruins.
Newtown lost borough status in 1836, after which the current Church of the Holy Spirit was built in an effort to revive the town’s fortunes.