LEADERS at Iffley’s historic Norman church have started a new £75,000 fundraising campaign the day after dedicating the latest revamp.
The £100,000 phase one work at Grade I listed St Mary’s Church was dedicated by the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev John Pritchard, on Sunday night. The work included new lighting and a refurbishment of the chancel to allow concerts to take place.
Now the church hopes to raise a further £75,000 to protect the famous Norman carvings on the west end of the church.
The Rev Andrew McKearney, vicar of Iffley Parish, said: “If this did not happen the magnificent Romanesque carvings on the west facade would be lost for ever.
“It would be a travesty and a betrayal of our responsibility to conserve the building for future generations.”
About 200 people filled the church on Sunday night to see the Bishop of Oxford dedicate the latest refurbishments, including a new stained glass window and communion cabinet.
Dignitaries included the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire, William Alden, representatives from Christ Church Cathedral and members of the Friends of St Mary’s. The dedication included hymns, singing from St Mary’s Church Choir and a sermon by the Rev Allan Doig, Fellow at Lady Margaret Hall in Oxford.
The stained glass window, called Flowering Tree, was designed by local artist Roger Wagner and features an image of Christ crucified in branches of a tree in blossom.
Sculptor Nicholas Mynheer created the new cabinet, known as an aumbry, to hold the church’s bread and wine for communion.
The church has been raising cash for the project for the last four years and building work has been going on for two years.
Cash was raised from the church’s own resources, from private donations and from the Critchley Charitable Trust.
Mr McKearney said: “The new artwork helps the building speak its purpose for today.
“It is an extraordinarily difficult skill to sensitively adapt a Norman building to today’s need and introduce new artworks, but it works and I am proud of the achievement.”
Bishop John said: “Iffley is a gem of a church and needed enhancement of real quality so I was delighted to dedicate these two superb additions.
“The Roger Wagner window glows with an intense spiritual light and the Nicholas Mynheer aumbry is a thing of great beauty.
“I am in no doubt that St Mary’s will continue to delight its many pilgrims and visitors. I wish them well for the next important phase of the project.”