£107,000 award for St James’ improvements

The meal will take place at St James' Church Hall.
The meal will take place at St James' Church Hall.

The vestry of St James’ Stonehaven has announced that it has been awarded a large grant of £107,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to go substantially towards a comprehensive project to repair and improve the church.

The project is in three sections, the first and most urgent being to repair the roof and treat the dry rot which has appeared over the last two years as a result of water getting into the timbers of the 140 years old Grade A listed building.

The other part of this section is the upgrade of the protection to the stained glass windows which help to make the church so beautiful, and to install CCTV to deter the vandals that have caused damage in recent times.

The second section of the project will upgrade the plumbing and electrics of the church.

As a result, it is hoped that the heating will be much improved, but also become much more efficient and controllable in order to keep the costs under control.

This section also includes installing wifi throughout the church and hall, both for internal church use and for use by the visiting public.

The third section is the installation of two permanent exhibitions at the west end of the church.

One part will illustrate the history of Episcopal churches in the Stonehaven area, and allow the church to display securely some of the very old items.

The second part of the exhibition will demonstrate the musical principles and the physics of the church’s organ. It is a Grade 2 Historic Pipe Organ manufactured by Wadsworth and installed in 1881 and still in regular use.

This part will also focus on the life of John Wardle, who installed the organ -along with about 100 similar ones in the North-east –and stayed on to be organist and choirmaster at St. James’ for 58 years. The church already has a steady stream of visitors from both far and near, and these two exhibitions should give them all a much more memorable experience and understanding of the importance of the Stonehaven history on our doorstep.

While the HLF grant covers a large portion of the anticipated costs, there is still more to be raised (both locally through such events as the Book Browse – the next one is on Saturday, March 25, then on May 27th, and through other grant applications.

David Fleming, buildings convener, said: “With other sources of grant and income in the pipeline, we can now look forward to creating a church which is much more welcoming and open to all, and a church fulfilling its target of being a proud part of Stonehaven’s tourist attractions.”