|Coombes Church is a little downland treasure - an article published by Father Roger at Saint James the Less Lancing in 2006|
Coombes Church is a little downland treasure. On the slope of the Downs at Church Farm, it has served the people of this tiny parish for nearly a thousand years. But now the church’s small congregation and friends face a massive challenge to make sure it will continue as a place of Christian worship and spiritual peace.
There are less than forty people living at Coombes, just sixteen households. The parish shares a rector with Lancing, but is financially independent and responsible for the up-keep and repairs of this ancient church. Investigative work has recently taken place leading to major repair work to the bell-cote and western roof. The bell-cote at the west end of the roof was constructed in the early 18th century when the west end of the church was shortened, perhaps after a collapse. It is thought that once there was a tower at the west end. Over the centuries the weight of the bell-cote has caused the roof to sag badly, and bell-cote has had to be shored up.
The planned work will repair the roof at the west, re-build the bell-cote, and repair and re-hang the bell. The bell is the second oldest in Sussex, dated around 1150. It is believed to have been made in Normandy. It is our dear hope soon to hear it ring again. The church also contains very important wall paintings of the early 12th century depicting the gospel story of the birth of Jesus. Re-discovered only in 1949, these are rare survivals from the time when our churches were richly decorated, and taught the Gospel to those who could not read through pictures.
The first phase of the work – the investigation – was estimated by English Heritage at £40,461 (including VAT) towards which English Heritage have granted us £25,000. The repairs themselves are estimated at £184,428 (including VAT) towards which they are offering £137,000. This grant is, of course, dependent upon our being able to raise the balance.
We were thrilled that the Chancellor in the recent Budget announced the extension of VAT exemption for listed churches. This will be a great help and we await the details. BUT that will still leave a very considerable amount of money to be raised by this tiny parish and congregation.
Morning Service, the Eucharist, is held on the second Sunday in each month at 9.00 a.m., plus Christmas and Easter at 8.45 a.m. Evening Service is usually on the fourth Sunday at 6.00 p.m. between Easter and Harvest.
CAN YOU HELP THIS LITTLE GEM OF A CHURCH?
The Rev’d Roger Russell, Rector, The Vicarage Manor Road Lancing Tel: 01903 753212
|page created 09/12/11|