Last night I found myself at Quainton, pulling a ribbon to open the doors through a new screen to open up the base of the tower. The church is large, with some large monuments to match. Two monuments to members of the Dormer family have moved around the church over the years, and their current resting place is in the base of the tower, either side of the bell ropes. They are extraordinary monuments - sentimental, melancholic and bold. They have been admired by both Simon Jenkins and Pevsner !
Much in need of restoration, this small village has taken seriously the need to make the most of their listed building, opening it up more for worshippers and Dormer monument enthusiasts alike. Hence, phase 1 a glass screen between the church and the monuments/ringing chamber allowing easy access to both. Phase 2 will be tackling the damp at the base of the tower, and Phase 3 restoring the two monuments. It was great to be part of this village occasion, where Priest in Charge, architect, church wardens and others were all visibly playing their important part in ensuring the country's heritage is preserved for future generations, and making what goes on inside our churches accessible to all. Prayer, Pilgrimage and Preservation.
I am sure those who appreciate our museums, public buildings and places of interest, do not always realise that the total upkeep of our historic churches (many grade 1 and 2 listed) falls entirely onto our local communities, and very often those few who are regular attenders. It is an amazing feat, even to fill in the grant applications, yet alone fund raise, deploy builders and architects and oversee the work, particularly as our prime call as Christians was not to do any of these things!
I get the privilege of pulling the ribbons on occasions and offer encouragement to these unsung heroes of our nations heritage. The glass screen at Quainton illustrates the work of many, as they create an opening between the past and the present, which all can cross, and between sacred and secular in our lives.
What if many more gave themselves to altruistic work, not for the sake of themselves but for others?