£1m restoration project saves 12th century church

The newly restored St Leonard's Church in Flamstead.

The newly restored St Leonard's Church in Flamstead. - Credit: Andrew Lambourne

The major reconstruction of a 12th century Grade I listed church has succeeded in saving the building from closure.

The ambitious project to raise £1m to save St Leonard's in Flamstead was launched in 2017, and won the support of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, trusts and local organisations, and many
individual donors.

Over the past year contractors skilled in heritage crafts have recreated and repaired the badly degraded medieval windows and roof, restored traditional lime mortar to the walls, and upgraded the rainwater dispersal system to eliminate damp.

The restored medieval nave roof at St Leonard's Church in Flamstead.

The restored medieval nave roof at St Leonard's Church in Flamstead. - Credit: Andrew Lambourne

Making the building structurally sound and weatherproof has saved a priceless series of medieval wall paintings, fascinating medieval graffiti, and monuments and epitaphs to ordinary villagers, landowners, and people connected with the ruling classes in Tudor and Stuart times.

The church is now open again for visitors and for worship, subject to Covid restrictions.

Andrew Lambourne, who led the fundraising and restoration project, said “I am absolutely delighted with the quality of the work, and the fact that everyone will now be able to see how this amazing medieval structure was put together without unsightly temporary fixes getting in the way.

"The support from the community throughout the project has been fantastic, and having the church revealed again from beneath the year-long scaffold shroud made it all worthwhile.

"We are incredibly grateful for the support of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, and National Lottery players who make possible investment in essential projects of this kind. It’s been an honour and a privilege to lead the Flamstead Heritage Project, and to see the building restored to the position where its heritage can now be shared with far more people.”

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Jo Burke, the recently installed vicar of the Benefice of Flamstead and Markyate, said “It is a near miracle that St Leonard’s has been saved for future generations. We have been extraordinarily fortunate in the generosity of our funding, the timing of the project and in the calibre of the professionals who have worked so hard. I am so grateful to them all.

"We can now look forward to a new era with a soundly built church and fascinating heritage activities led by our community engagement Officer Paul Vitty.”
 

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