I have set up this page with the hope and anticipation that we can try to help the church towards paying for the running costs and any other general maintenance issues through these difficult times.
St Catherine’s church is at the heart of the village of Ringshall. It dates to Norman times and is mentioned in the Doomsday Book. It has been through many trials and tribulations since then and is now facing its latest.
Like all the other churches' it is funded and maintained mainly through donations from benefactors and grants which is barely enough to get by. The restrictions arising out of the Coronavirus pandemic has meant that services have been severely restricted and for a period the building has been closed. As with many concerns, its income stream has dried up and it is now highly reliant for its continued existence on the goodwill of donations from benefactors, at least until we can return to some form of normality.
Unfortunately, running and maintenance costs have not been similarly affected by Coronavirus and the church still must meet these liabilities and to meet them on a very reduced budget.
Failing to be able to do this would be unthinkable considering its 900-year history. Closing this grade I listed church might be the only option, losing a very important piece of English heritage, the heart and soul of a traditional English village. It is also the site of several Commonwealth War Graves maintained by the War Graves Commission.
These war graves run very close to my family's heart as my mum would tend to these graves on a regular basis. She delved into their history and managed to connect with some of the living relatives of them. My mum is now buried here next to 'her boys' always looking after them. This link is of a newspaper article written by the Otago Daily Times in New Zealand https://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/pilots-grave-suffolk-still-tended
We are faced now with several short-term liabilities which need to be met before we can get on our feet again.
Through my career in architecture, I have personally worked on several church projects, trying to diversify them to keep them afloat, otherwise we would face loss of these community buildings to de-consecration and then development. From a personal perspective this church holds so many bittersweet memories, christenings, marriages, and funerals, as I know it does for so many near and far. But how many will rally around and donate anything they can afford? I will be the first to admit that I am not a committed church goer, nor do I necessarily believe in all of Christianity, but I do believe that the church can hold so much for so many. Let us not risk losing this village church and not to mention such a stunning piece of architecture and English history.
My wish and hope would be to try and raise whatever is feasible but if I'm honest then my expectations are not high, and I know this sounds negative. As like many now, every penny is being stretched out to last until we can all find a new "normal" and our economy can pick up. I do have some faith that we as a local community or even the wider online community can pull together to offer whatever they can spare then I know personally how much this will help and mean to this church and keep it afloat in such turbulent times.
Anyway, I will not try and tug at your heart strings, if you are able to donate then please do and thank you for any amount, and even help me in spreading the word.
Here are a few additional links which look at the church and it's history.