The wheels grind slowly, - and you could be forgiven for thinking that our plans for toilet facilities at St Agatha’s had indeed ground to a halt! After all, it was right back at the beginning of the year that we alerted villagers as to what we would like to achieve at the church.
We are still checking out all the possibilities regarding the extension before finally making up our minds about exactly what we want along with what will be best for St Agatha’s and it all takes time; but then, this is only to be expected when you are dealing with a Grade II* listed church. ‘What does that mean exactly?’ I hear you ask. May I offer you the following quotation from an English Heritage Document on New Work in Historic Places of Worship: ‘Most listed buildings (over 90 per cent) are listed Grade II. A small percentage are listed Grade I or Grade II*: these are buildings of particularly great importance to the country’s built heritage.’ So that makes this village church quite special – being part of less than 10 per cent of all listed buildings.
In the meantime, however, there are more mundane issues to address – like the leaking south roof, the many places internally which need replastering, and total redecoration of the interior. Repair of the south roof has been given the go-ahead and we have been promised a grant towards the cost from The Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust, for which we are very grateful. Once the roof has been fixed, we hope to push ahead with the redecoration and, as I’m sure many of you will know, this will not be just a case of using any old plaster and a couple of coats of emulsion. Choice of materials is crucial for St Agatha’s ancient walls – to allow them to breathe.
Of course, like any home, there are lots of small jobs which can be done in-house – and we have a small team who are working their socks off – fixing the odd bit of leaded stained glass where it has come loose, cementing back loose floor tiles, attending to the trap door in the tower, replacing/splicing bell ropes etc, etc. The list is endless! And then there’s the Churchyard Gang – (though actually, come to think of it, most of these chaps are also the Indoor Fixers). The Churchyard Gang can be seen most Wednesday and Friday mornings hard at it, keeping the area beautifully tidy, mowing grass, pruning trees and shrubs, planting flowers along the church path and in pots at the door, and maintaining the gates, fences and garden benches. All they ask in return is a mid-morning pot of tea and some cake – and the pleasure of seeing a job well done!
If the churchyard and church is not somewhere you would normally venture, please feel free to do so, have a look inside the church and then take the little walk from the church door, past the old cob wall and along the little shady path which leads you round, via the glebe allotments and through to the current graveyard and the street. We’re very proud of how all this area is being looked after.
In the same spirit, come along to ‘Coffee in Church’ on Thursday mornings and let us show you around and discuss our ideas and plans with you. St Agatha’s is there for all to share.