Results of £370,000 Ayston church revamp go on show

Ayston Church'Photos: Alan Walters EMN-150206-182035001
Ayston Church'Photos: Alan Walters EMN-150206-182035001

More than 100 visitors and volunteers packed into a church in a tiny Rutland village to celebrate its reopening after a £370,000 revamp.

The Churches Conservation Trust took St Mary the Virgin Church in Ayston, near Uppingham, into its care in April last year.

Since then, the trust has conducted an extensive programme of repair work, including reroofing of the church, masonry repairs, improvements to drainage, specialist glazing work, wall painting conservation and repairs to pews.

One of the key tasks that was carried out was making the church bells safe and ringable, and on Friday last week, during a special event to mark the reopening, the peal of four medieval bells rang out.

The medieval Ayston Church dates from the 12th century though much of the present fabric goes back to the 13th century.

Dave Adgar, a volunteering officer from the Churches Conservation Trust, said that more than 100 people attended the event to meet the team behind the conservation work.

Architect Keith Hamilton was hand to show some of the artwork that was uncovered during the restoration.

He said the event attracted supporters of the trust from as far afield as Oxfordshire, Shropshire and Nottinghamshire.

There were representatives present from the Rutland Historic Churches Preservation Trust and the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies, as well as Rachael Baldwin, from the trust, and the Rev Rachel Watts, who led a prayer as the church is still consecrated and there will be services held there.

Dave added: “It was lovely to see so many people there to celebrate this new addition to the Churches Conservation Trust, which looks after churches of national importance.

“We were very pleased. Everyone enjoyed a cup of tea and a piece of cake and looked around at the church. It was a successful day.”