Restoration of church not complete for Easter

St. Andrew's church wardens, Penny Birks and Jim Oliver, Melvyn Rose, Chairman of the restoration committee and Rev Ian Walker pictured. Picture: Marie Caley E4128MC
St. Andrew's church wardens, Penny Birks and Jim Oliver, Melvyn Rose, Chairman of the restoration committee and Rev Ian Walker pictured. Picture: Marie Caley E4128MC
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The congregation at an Epworth church face disappointment this Easter after it was announced a major facelift operation will not be ready in time.

The £700,000 overhaul of St Andrew’s Church will be finished at the end of April rather than Easter as originally planned.

The rector, Rev Ian Walker said: “While it is disappointing to have to say this after we had been confident that the Easter services would take place in the church, we felt that it was better to take the decision at the beginning of March rather than wait until a week before Easter.

“No one factor has caused this delay which is not uncommon in such a major project.

“We feel it is better to ensure that the work is nearer full completion before using the church for worship.

“The plaster, for instance, is taking longer to dry than we thought, possibly due to the bad weather we have had recently.

“One result of the reordering work that St Andrew’s is much lighter inside now that the Victorian panelling has been removed from the tower.”

The church’s great west window was reinstated at the end of February and the clerestory windows have been cleaned for the first time in many years.

Mr Walker added: “It is hoped that services can be held in the church from the end of April.

“We look forward to welcoming the Bishop of Lincoln for a service of rededication on the afternoon of Sunday July 14.”

The 12th century building is being renovated as part of the ‘Conserving and Sharing St Andrew’s Church’ project which received a £700,000 cash injection from a variety of sources.

Once complete the church will become a multi-purpose community hub with new seating, flooring, heating, a new balcony and meeting room.

Changes to the Grade-I listed church also include the controversial removal of the Victorian pews.

The clock face has been repainted using gold leaf on the hands, hours and minutes with black gloss elsewhere.

Martin Johnson, stained glass specialist of York, removed the west window for restoration and returned it in pristine condition.

Ground works in the north churchyard to accommodate delivery vehicles will form the base of a car park.