The Trust was set up in 1978 at the time of the major restoration work which was commenced during the Rev Canon Jim Richardson’s term as Rector. The Trustees were to include the Rector, the Bishop of Chester, the Patron Quentin Crewe and up to 12 others. The aim was to gather together a group of people, of all denominations, who were keen to see the wonderful church of St Mary’s preserved for the local and wider community. Their aim was to raise funds and use these for the preservation of the exterior of the church, leaving, the parishioners to look after the maintenance and enhancement of the interior.
Since formation the Trustees have been chaired by several well known personalities, commencing with Professor Alan Gemmell, famous for his role in the BBC’s “Gardeners Question Time” and true to the aim, have covered a wide range of denominations.
Over £ 1.5 million has been raised and a considerable amount of work has been completed on the East, West and South sides of the church, the tower and the roof, including replacement of a number of pinnacles. The North side remains to be done and for this a further £500,000 will be needed. Alas, funding is becoming forever harder. National Grants from English Heritage and Lottery funding have become almost impossible. Likewise many Charitable Funds now have so much demand on their depleted income that a town like Nantwich, which is perceived as “wealthy” cannot attract funds. One area we are becoming increasingly dependent on is bequests. We earnestly ask people to remember us in their will, even with just a small percentage of their estate, which is probably the easiest way when one never knows what the final value will be.
Departing from their usual role, the Trustees agreed to undertake the conservation of the Canopies and Misericords which are of course internal. This special area, whilst not unique, is a rare treasure and has been subject to considerable research and consultation. The resulting programme of work was completed in 2014. The way we have tackled the conservation has received much favourable comment from the various bodies who had to give their consent before work commenced. A number of other churches have watched with interest what we have done. On completion a new lighting system has been installed to show the Canopies in their full glory. See the result shown below.
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