One of Connor’s oldest country churches is set for a whole new era when it throws open its doors to welcome parishioners back in time for the official beginning of the Church year on Advent Sunday at 11.30am.
The reopening of the historic St Patrick’s Church in Cairncastle signals the end of an extensive nine-month essential conservation project, which was completed in November.
Thanks to a £94,200 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a huge ongoing fundraising drive by parishioners, the church has been returned to its former glory.
The building, constructed in 1815 on the site of a much older church , needed extensive refurbishment; from re-pointing work to storm glazing on the rare ‘Meyer’ East Window and repairs to the spire, floor and roof. All the preservation was carried out in keeping with the church’s original character.
William Bell, Chair of the Restoration Committee, was elated that the work has finally reached fruition: “The major work on St Patrick’s has now drawn to a close and we are delighted to be back in the building at such a poignant time of year,” he said.
“We think parishioners will definitely notice a difference in the building and the new heating system fitted as part of the project will make the Church more comfortable to be in.”
The Parish hosts its first wedding in the restored Church on December 9 as former Sunday School teacher Wendy Lewis and David Gough begin a new life together.
The Rev Roger Thompson, rector, said: “Everyone is really excited at the prospect of worshipping together again in St Patrick’s.
“I am so thankful for all those who have worked so hard to get us this far. For William Bell and others on the Restoration Committee, for Richard Hunter (Architect) and his assistant Melita Bloomfield, for the practical work carried out by our Contractor, Hector Nelson and for the financial support of the Heritage Lottery Fund. Thanks too must be given to the congregation at All Saints’, who have made members of St Patrick’s feel so welcome at their Sunday services since March.
“It is fitting that we re-open the church on Advent Sunday – the beginning of a new church year and traditionally a time when we call to mind the fresh start God brought to the world as a newborn baby.”