St Mary’s Church from the Glebe Photograph by Becky Feather
There has been a church on this site in Bitton for well over a thousand years. Even today some parts of the present day walls date from the time of the Anglo-Saxons. The buildings, its treasures and objects left behind by many generations, form part of the rich story of church and village life over the past two millennia.
But what of its future?
The cost of upkeep of this important grade 1 listed building is expensive. It has been well looked after in recent years, but it cannot continue by relying on its congregation alone.
St Mary’s church has a future if we act now. Our ambition is to make St Mary’s a place that everyone will feel comfortable to use. A welcoming place; a place for reflection, worship and even pilgrimage; a place to attend meetings, plays and shows; a place you can hire for an event with the assurance that it can provide an acceptable level of hospitality and comfort.
A place that we all want to visit and use.
Making that ambition a reality?
The plans for St Mary’s future have been coming together for some years. In the longer term we are looking to build new facilities on the south side of the church but in the current phase, we are concentrating on the interior:
- Making the pews mobile so that the main part of the church can be used in many new ways;
- Updating our utilities, including sound, vision and lighting;
- Installing a new floor providing greater accessibility and making room for new heating arrangements;
- Conserving and cleaning the walls, removing years of grime and harmful pollution—cleaner walls will reflect light better.
- Examining the possibility of installing solar panels.
In addition to the physical improvements we are:
- Building on and celebrating the rich history and heritage of the church and its place in the local community;
- Facilitating more events and usage of both the church and church hall;
- Increasing our presence online and on social media.
Archaeologist Dan Miller shows some of the finds he has made at the church fête in September 2021. The archaeology was undertaken both to explore the possibility of building on the south side of the church, but also to examine the evidence for ancient floor levels.
Ellacombe 200 Exhibition 2022 – Opened by Stephanie Cole OBE
In 2022, we celebrated the bicentenary of the birth our former vicar and famous horticulturalist, Cannon Henry Nicholson Ellacombe. The exhibition, which ran for the whole of the summer, was intended both as a celebration of our rich heritage and as a fundraiser for our development plans.
Can you help?
There are many ways in which you can help but the most valuable is also the cheapest.
Most of the money for these changes will come from large donors – trust funds, special charities etc and we have already had some success in raising funds. As an ancient building, with grade 1 listed status and a clear plan for the future, we have a good chance of success — but it is competitive. Organisations receive many requests for grants, and most are turned down.
One of the things that funders look for is community support. That’s where you can really help by showing your support and signing up as a supporter. It costs you nothing but is worth a lot.
Please scroll down to the box below and sign up today – if you can encourage other people, particularly this in your household to sign up, that is a real bonus.
Of course, if you would like to make a donation, please do. Every penny counts and is most gratefully received.
Become a Supporter
Please show your interest in the church’s future. It is the most valuable gift you can make.
Our Development Appeal
What we have raised and how more funds can be raised.
More information about our development plans and progress.