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FROWYK CHAPEL UPDATE

In our last issue the St. Giles Churchwardens gave a lengthy report of the structural problems win the Frowyk Chapel at St. Giles. Since then we have made several applications for funding, as the total costs for repair and restoration are likely to exceed £120,000. This figure has risen since out last report, as the Conservator for the timberwork screen has now submitted his costs, which turn out to more expensive than we had guessed.

We have had our first success, in that the Beds & Herts Historic Churches Trust has awarded us £10,000 towards the repairs. The church itself will fund the first Phase of the works anyway, (between £15k and £20k, drawn down from legacies and from the Restoration Fund, which has been building up over the last 15 years, thanks to the generosity of local efforts (the collecting boxes in the White Hart and the Black Horse, concerts, booksales, donations and so on). So we may have only another £90k to raise. Only!

We now have to seek formal permission to undertake the rest of the works: dismantling the Frowyk tomb, taking up the floor with its gravestones intact, removing the small alter and propping up the timber work screen; then compacting and filling the floor to make it level and solid, and rebuilding all the parts that have been dismantled. The costs seem high, but we must realise that these are valuable and irreplaceable artefacts, works of art, which have been given national, indeed international, status, and attract visitors interested in the heritage of which we are custodians. And the stonework is in a very fragile condition, so taking the tomb apart has to be done very carefully. Parts which have already broken off will be carefully reattached and put back together. And eventually we hope to see the chapel restored to its original glory.

We hope that the work will start this September, and that, with luck and assurance of funding, we will complete the project before the end of March next year.

Mark Edwards and William Marsterson, Churchwardens