A tale of two churches

CCT hosted two special events on Saturday 6th December to mark the vesting of St Giles’ Church, Merston and the re-opening of St Botolph’s, both in West Sussex. Visitors to these events met with staff and found out more about the planned conservation and repair work at Merston and saw the results of the work at St Botolph’s. The latter also included mulled wine and carols led by the renowned local opera singer, Neil Jenkins.

St Giles’ Church, Merston recently came under the care of CCT. Grade I listed St Giles' is a simple building dating to the 12th century, with a deep sweeping roof and a dainty belcote. Most furnishings and fittings in the church date to the mid-nineteenth century and comprise an early ecclesiological seating scheme which is of outstanding national historic interest. The immediate surrounding area shows evidence of settlement from the Palaeolithic period and there is evidence of a possible shrunken medieval village nearby.

A significant amount of repair work will be carried out on the building, including repairs to the traditional lath and plaster ceiling and masonry, which will cost in the region of £150,000. The church will remain closed  for a number of months until the repairs are carried out but will  reopen to visitors when completed.

St Botolph’s Church, which gave its name to the village of Botolphs, is a charming Grade I listed church of local flint whose origins date back to Anglo-Saxon times. St Botolph is the patron saint of wayfarers and today this church receives many visitors walking the South Downs Way, crossing the river nearby. The building has been closed for a number of months for vital conservation and repair work which included the complete re-roofing, extensive masonry work and re-wiring, but is now open once again to the public.

Peter Aiers, Director, South East, says: “We are delighted to be able to welcome St Giles’ Church into the care of CCT and also delighted to demonstrate the quality of work carried out at St Botolph’s which can once again welcome visitors. However, we cannot do all of this work on our own - we need the support and help of the local community to ensure that these buildings remain vital assets to the local area and continue to welcome visitors from near or far.”

Those interested in volunteering should contact our South East Office on 01223 324 442.