An ancient church in the village of Llanfairtalhairn, Conwy, has secured Heritage Lottery Funding to carry out much-needed repairs and restoration.
St Mary’s Church, which was closed temporarily last year after plaster fell off the ceiling, has been awarded a grant of up to £115,800 by the Fund.
The church, which sits on the hill overlooking the village square, is medieval in origin though it was considerably restored in Victorian times. The building and graveyard are littered with historic memorials and gravestones including that of the famous bard John Jones – Talhaiarn.
Maryann Williams who lives in the village and has been involved in the grant application said: “The whole village is delighted that we have received this support from HLF. It will mean that we will be able not only to preserve what we have but also we can develop the church and its surroundings as a building that can serve the whole community in a fun and dynamic way. We are all very excited about the project.”
There have long been concerns about the deterioration of St Mary’s with rain coming through the ceiling and plaster falling off the walls. Netting has been installed inside the church to protect the congregation and visitors from any falling plaster so the church can remain open until work starts in the summer.
The project will restore the church and will allow the entire site to be developed as a historic and nature resource for the community and the many tourists who visit the village. Plans include involving the children from the local school in creating the nature area in the churchyard which would be enjoyed by all.
In addition, there is a treasure trove of village history to be uncovered and researched amid the old graves. It is hoped that volunteers from the village will help clear and restore the churchyard so it can become an interesting and welcoming place for people to visit and explore.
The Head of HLF in Wales, Richard Bellamy, said: “Wales’ historic and diverse places of worship are so often at the heart of our communities. Thanks to National Lottery players HLF funds urgent structural repairs and also improvements to visitor information. St Mary’s Church Llanfairtalhaiarn is an excellent example of how HLF can help conserve a much loved building so it can continue to serve its local community and help people to learn more about the natural environment.”
Sally Rogers, the Rector added: “We have now set up a Facebook page (St Mary’s Llanfairtalhaiarn – working with the community) so that everyone can follow our progress and get involved in the project.”