Cockerel takes flight to return to top of church spire

As local residents will have noticed, the church spire at St Philip & St James has been surrounded in scaffolding for many months whilst restoration work takes place.

As part of the spire restoration, which have involved replacing the wrought iron rings which were eroding and causing damage to the stone work, the cockerel and weather vane have been re-guilded.

On Thursday, 2nd February, a Topping Out ceremony took place at the top of the spire as the cockerel was restored to his rightful place - 175ft above the village.

During the ceremony a sprig of yew was tied to the spire as a symbol of longevity and growth, whilst beer was served to the stone masons to congratulate them on a job well done.

Mandy Parr said "The repair of the spire has involved very many people and thanks was given to everyone who has helped by giving financial donations, including grants from Heritage Lottery Fund, Alderley Edge Institute Trust, All Churches Trust, Historic Cheshire Churches Trust and Emerson Foundation.

"Thanks also to those overseeing the project - scaffolders, stone masons and builders - who during times of uncertainty continued to keep the project moving forward and have work with passion, skill and talent.

"The support of the village has been invaluable, with various fundraising events by local businesses and villagers."

The re-pointing and replacing of stone will continue as the scaffolding is dismantled over the next few weeks, and the internal remodelling at the back of church is also nearly complete to create a new area with moveable seating, a kitchen and toilets.

The pews at the back of the church are being removed to create a new heritage centre for the village, using resources and archives from the Alderley History Group, and a large screen is being installed for use of the heritage centre.

Church Warden Martin Sinker said "We are looking forward to welcoming everyone to see the new facilities. We are having a thanksgiving service in July, with Bishop Peter."

Since the Spire Appeal was launched in 2012 they have raised £575,000 to carry out essential restoration works to the Grade II* listed building, which was built in 1853 to the design of the prominent Manchester architect J.S.Crowther.

Just under half of this came from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £137,000 from fundraising and donations and just over £60,000 from other grants.

Their fundraising efforts over the past four years have included an auction of promises in February 2013, which gave them a good start by raising £12,000, a series of concerts, celebration lunches, a wedding fair and antique valuations.

They have also been active with a Beating the Bounds sponsored walk around the boundary of the village, whilst Revd Jane swam the equivalent of the English Channel and Rod Howgarth jumped out a plane.

Fundraiser Mandy Parr said "We have had great support from businesses and villagers, and friend of St Philips and St James and we look forward to the local community using the heritage centre, and our new facilities."

She added "The re-organisation at the back of Church was part of the HLF, so the Church can be used by the local community. We have foraged new links with Macclesfield College, as students have assisted with designing a new website, and various promotion leaflets and posters, as part of their curriculum projects."

Photos courtesy of Peter Wright show:

Martin Sinker (Church warden), Mandy Parr, Lenny McEvoy (Chaplain AESG) during the Topping Out Ceremony from the top of the spire.

View of the village.

The builders receiving their Golden Hen beers.

Sue Mills, pastoral worker, and Lenny McEvoy.

Climbing up the spire.

Stone masons at work

New gargoyle made by the stone masons on site.

St Philip and St James Church


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Guy Lightowler
Tuesday 7th February 2017 at 10:33 pm
What an amazing view!