A fundraising appeal has been launched to help pay for an urgent £400,000 restoration of the iconic spire of a well-known Lancashire church.
Architects have discovered the need for vital repairs to the 130ft spire at St Wilfrid’s Church in Standish.
Although just inside Wigan borough, it is part of The Church of England in Lancashire (Blackburn Diocese) ... where our ongoing Vision 2026 has the overarching aim of having 'healthy churches transforming communities' as we share the hopeful message of Jesus' love across the County.
St Wilfrid's has shared that message while faithfully served the people of the area for centuries; and its present spire has been a visible landmark at the heart of the Standish community and the wider surrounding area for more than 150 years
The church, which is the only Grade I-listed building in the borough of Wigan, has launched a 'Save Standish Spire' campaign to raise money for the project, to pay for repairs to the inside and outside of the structure – including fixing the broken church clock. It is hoped the repairs can be carried out later this year.
Rev Andrew Holliday, Rector of St Wilfrid’s CE Church, pictured, said: “The spire is an important part of our village heritage and is a landmark for Standish people which can be seen for miles around. It is essential we preserve it and we are launching this appeal so this urgent restoration can be carried out as soon as possible.
“As the spire is dear to everyone in Standish, we hope people and businesses from across the village and beyond will be able to make a donation, no matter how small, so that we can conserve the spire for future generations.
“Our own parish funds built up to maintain the church will contribute to the costs, but the scale of the essential repairs that are needed means we have to reach out across the community for support.”
The Grade I-listed church was described by the authors of the ‘Buildings of England’ as 'one of the most interesting churches in Lancashire'. When St Wilfrid’s Church was rebuilt in the 1580s, the tower and spire from the previous medieval church were retained. But, in 1814, the spire was badly damaged after being struck by lightning and eventually blew down during a storm in 1822.
The replacement spire was badly designed and out of proportion to the church and, in 1867, it was decided a new one should be built.
The present 155-year-old spire, surmounted by a weather vane in the form of the Standish family crest, the owl and the rat, sits on top of a tower which houses a peel of eight bells that have been rung to mark many notable events, from the Jacobite defeat at Preston in 1715 to the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II last year.
David Johnson, Chairman of the Save Standish Spire appeal, said: “From every direction as you approach Standish, the spire of St Wilfrid's Church is the most visible landmark, symbolising the continuous presence of the church in our village through changing times and passing generations.
“The present church dates from the 1580s and is the only Grade I-listed building in the borough of Wigan – it is an architectural gem in our community of which we are all rightly proud.
“However, a recent survey has identified urgent issues with the structure of the church spire which we need to address. The estimated cost of this restoration is £400,000 and we are calling on everyone in the community to help to support us with these costs.”
Words by Paul Ogden
Captions for above pictures, top to bottom
13 April 2023