Transform St Mary's Totnes into a community venue

by Totnes Heritage Trust in Totnes, England, United Kingdom

£20,695

raised so far

+ est. £2270.00 Gift Aid

135

supporters

We have a bold vision to transform this medieval church into a warm and welcoming community hub, exhibition space and performing arts venue.

by Totnes Heritage Trust in Totnes, England, United Kingdom

We're still collecting donations

On the 28th March 2021 we'd raised £20,505 with 132 supporters in 46 days. But as every pound matters, we're continuing to collect donations from supporters.

We're fundraising for internal restoration and reordering works that will breathe new life into St Mary's Church and create a much-needed community hub and arts and performance space at the heart of Totnes. This includes:

  • a new stone floor 
  • improved heating and lighting
  • catering facilities
  • toilets
  • flexible seating

Please donate and help secure the future of this beautiful medieval building.

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About the project

The Totnes Heritage Trust was set up in 2018 to oversee the desperately needed restoration of St Mary's. Built in around 1450, this historically significant church was placed on the Heritage At Risk Register in 2015, with more than 50 items needing immediate attention. The crumbling mortar and cracking sandstone, along with many internal repairs such as the collapsing stone floor, should have been addressed long before now. 

You may have seen that external work is now under way, thanks to a grant from the Culture Recovery Fund. However, this is just dealing with the most pressing of the issues - there is a lot more that needs to be done to secure St Mary's future.

But this is not just about preserving an iconic building at the heart of our town; it's about realising a bold vision of what it can offer to our community in the 21st century - as a sacred place and as a community hub, an exhibition space and a performing arts venue.

We have so far been supported by organisations including the Garfield Weston Foundation, Devon Historic Churches Trust, Wakefield Trust and Sabina Sutherland Charitable Trust. We have also had encouraging discussions with the Heritage Lottery Fund, for which we are now preparing an application. But the HLF and other organisations like it want to see that St Mary's will be used by as many people as possible - and that the community has thrown its weight behind the project. 

Your donation, then, will help us in two vital ways: it will be used directly for the internal restoration and reordering of the church and it will also be instrumental in getting large grant-giving organisations to come on board and support us. 

So what exactly does this project entail?

An awe-inspiring space for the arts

If you've ever been to a concert at St Mary's, you will know what astonishing acoustics and atmosphere it has. Just look at the love it received from Sea Change festivalgoers and performers alike. Clash magazine declared it 'one of the most divine venues for live music in the country'. We want to see a year-round programme of theatre, talks and music of all kinds. We want your favourite podcast to be recorded live here. We want to see exhibitions by local artists and galleries as well as touring art fairs and installations. In a town that no longer has a viable large performance space, this is desperately needed and would go a long way to reinvigorating Totnes's reputation as a centre for music and the arts.

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A truly flexible community hub

We want to see St Mary's used in as many ways as possible by as many people as possible. A warm, well-lit, welcoming space that will be available for private hire, with newfangled luxuries such as catering facilities and on-site toilets! The pews will be replaced with flexible seating that can be rearranged or removed to utilise the entire space. Support groups will be able to sit in circles in the centre of the church. The sun will shine through the stained-glass windows on to exercise mats and soft-play cushions. It will come alive with craft markets, food festivals and, yes, music festivals. If you can imagine it, we want to make it a reality.

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Who are we?

The Totnes Heritage Trust grew out of a partnership beteen Totnes with Bridgetown Parochial Church Council, which was overseeing the St Mary’s Restoration and Reordering Project, and the Totnes Trust, which was running the St Mary’s Heritage Area Project, along with Totnes Town Council, which owns the Guildhall and maintains the churchyard. It was set up in 2018 to focus the effort to fundraise for and project manage urgently needed restoration work. Registered as a charity in 2019, its objectives are to conserve and enhance not only the historically significant mediaeval priory and parish church and the outstanding heritage area around it, but to proactively pursue conservation and enhancement works to further buildings and landscapes of public amenity and benefit within Totnes that are also of historical, architectural or local importance. Its nine trustees reflect a cross-section of the community and bring a wealth of experience and energy to the project.

What will my donation fund?

Your support now will directly help fund the new catering and toilet facilities, but for the reasons outlined above, it will also indirectly help the project on its way to meeting the phase 2 costs of £1.2 million.

Our legacy for future generations

Totnes wouldn't be Totnes without its blood-red church peeking up from every viewpoint - truly the heart of this wonderful, unique and historic town. Donate now to give it a new lease of life and ensure it survives another 550 years.

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Rewards

We've pulled together a selection of unique rewards that will only be available to donors. Some of them are limited-number offers. Don't miss out!

£20 or more - thank-you postcard with pin badge
£30 or more - campaign tote bag
£50 or more - Totnes Map poster
£75 or more - church tour and trip up the tower!
£100 or more - Willis organ experience
£100 or more - a pair of Sea Change tickets
£250 or more - a pew from St Mary's
£1,000 or more - limited-edition Totnes Map wall hanging
£2,500 or more - your name engraved in the new stone floor

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If you would like to donate a reward for the campaign, please email [email protected]

*Please bear in mind that some of our larger rewards cannot be realised until work is under way or complete. While we have given an indication of likely timescales for fulfilling these, we cannot give precise dates at this point. We hope you will understand that a large-scale community project such as this is somewhat at the mercy of funders and contracters when it comes to speed of progress. A wildly successful Crowdfunder bid will certainly help speed it along though!

Still need convincing?

Watch this...

"I return to the church and, as usual, there’s something miraculous about to happen. Tonight, it’s all about Jane Weaver, transforming her 2017 album ‘Modern Kosmologie’ into something she’s billing as ‘Kosmologie Ancienne’, a divine creation fleshed out by the orchestral work of Immix Ensemble. Combined with the beautiful visual backdrop, it’s one of the most peaceful experiences I’ve ever experienced in a live music setting." - Matthew Neale, Clash Magazine

Rewards

This project offered rewards

£30 or more

Campaign tote bag

A lovely big, gusseted canvas bag for lugging your shopping around in and at the same time telling the world you're supporting St Mary's.

£50 or more

Totnes Map poster

An A2 poster of the fabulous Totnes Map that can be found on the floor of St Mary's Church. Created by local artists Anna Ventura and Claudia Schmidt, it features creatures mythical and real from Totnes tales down the ages. It even shows McCabe the butcher with his life-saving hog's pudding! A unique piece of art for your wall, or a brilliant gift for the Totnes-lover in your life. See more at www.totnesmaps.net

£50 or more

Mend Assembly annual membership - LIMITED TO ONE!

Fantastic new sustainable clothing initiative Mend Assembly, based in the mill building, have kindly donated a year's community membership. This includes unlimited access to socials and clothing swaps, the option to 'put in' to the wardrobe hire scheme, plus discounts across all other programming and products. This will activate as soon as Covid rules allow. Normal price £60. Check out www.mendassembly.com for more information.

£75 or more

Church tour and trip up the tower!

Join Father Jim Barlow for a guided tour of the church, including a never-before-offered trip up the tower. *Please note that we cannot fulfil this reward until Covid restrictions allow indoor gatherings of more than one household.

£100 or more

Willis organ experience

A detailed tour of the church's famous organ, built by Father Henry Willis for the Great Exhibition in 1851, and a chance to play it if you wish. *Please note that we cannot fulfil this reward until Covid restrictions allow indoor gatherings of more than one household.

£250 or more

Church pew from St Mary's

Your chance to have a piece of Totnes history in your home or business! This is a limited-edition reward and will be given on a first-come-first-served basis. *Please note that we cannot fulfil this reward until the start of the internal reordering work, likely to be during the second half of 2022. **If you are unable to collect your pew, a courier charge will apply (within UK only).

£1,000 or more

Limited-edition Totnes Map wall hanging

Grab one of just four wall hangings of the fabulous Totnes Map, as seen on the floor of St Mary's. Created by local artists Anna Ventura and Claudia Schmidt, it features creatures mythical and real from Totnes tales down the ages. It even shows McCabe the butcher with his life-saving hog's pudding! A unique piece of art for your wall, or a brilliant gift for the Totnes-lover in your life. Measures 143x83cm. See more at www.totnesmaps.net

£2,500 or more

Your name engraved in the new stone floor

A truly unique and prestigious reward that will live on for centuries, telling future generations you played a part in keeping St Mary's alive for them. Our new stone floor will celebrate significant donors in perpetuity. Please note that this will not be fulfilled until the construction works are under way.

£20 or more

Thank-you postcard with pin badge

An enamel pin badge to show the world you care for St Mary's!

£100 or more

Pair of Sea Change tickets

Drift Records have given us two weekend passes to Sea Change festival when it can return. We've heard exciting rumours...

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