THE Roman Catholic Church of St Michael & St George in Lyme Regis is embarking on a major £250,000 restoration project.
Under constant attack by the elements, the Grade II listed church in Silver Street requires constant maintenance and has now reached a stage where considerable repair work is necessary.
The total cost of these works is in the region of £250,000 and funding has been awarded through grants from charitable organisations, including Dorset Historical Churches, the Charlotte Marshall Charitable Trust, Llewellyn Edwardes Bell Trust and Historic England, via the Grants for Programmes of Major Works Fund within the government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s Culture Recovery Fund.
Lyme Regis Town Council and the Axe Vale Show Committee have also contributed, and parishioners have raised about £30,000 through fundraising activities.
Exterior work will be carried out between December 2020 and March 2021, to fulfil a condition laid down by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The parish is currently seeking further grants and is fundraising with a view to finance the interior work in spring 2021.
St Michael & St George Roman Catholic Church was designed by the architect Mr. E. Goodridge, of Bath, who was also the architect of the Old Chapel at Downside Abbey.
The foundation stone was laid in April 1835 and the first Mass was celebrated there in 1837. It was the earliest Catholic Church in this part of the Country to have been built after the Act of Catholic Emancipation of 1829.
The Presbytery was constructed in 1838, based on a design by the architect Edward Welby Pugin (1834-1875), son of the famous Augustus Pugin. The Old School Room, originally three stories high, was constructed in 1840 for use as a school.
An additional piece of land at the back of the church, known as Godfreys Orchard, was purchased in 1843 and in 1987 a further piece of land was donated to form a car parking area off Pound Road.
By the 1980s it had become apparent that extensive works were required to preserve the church, the Presbytery and the Old School Room. Through the generosity of English Heritage, the work was completed in 1991 with the driving force behind the restoration being the late General Sir David Mostyn KCB CBE, and his late wife Diana, both strong benefactors of the church.