Lyme Regis Catholic church celebrates completion of restoration

Catholic church

The Mayor and Mayoress of Lyme Regis, Cllr Brian and Wendy Larcombe, chat to guests at the reception

A SPECIAL service was recently held at the Roman Catholic Church of St Michael & St George in Lyme Regis, in thanks for the restoration work carried out to the interior and exterior of the Grade II listed building, first constructed in 1835.

Led by Father Anthony Cockram, the Mass was followed by a reception attended by the Mayor of Lyme Regis, Cllr Brian Larcombe MBE and the mayoress Wendy Larcombe.

Several parishioners and guests were in attendance, enjoying the speeches, finger buffet and refreshments.

Brigadier Philip Mostyn gave a brief address on the history of the church, the presbytery and the old school, and famous persons associated with the town of Lyme Regis, such as Admiral Sir John Talbot who had purchased Rhode Hill; Mrs Billinham, who lived at Coram Court; and James Woodroffe of Ware House.

He mentioned in particular how the origins of the church stemmed from the sum of £100 found amongst the belongings of Mrs Bellingham’s son, who died in India, which she donated towards the acquisition of land upon which the church is built.

Brigadier Mostyn also highlighted the involvement of the famous architect Augustus Pugin in the church and presbytery Father Anthony then thanked the many parishioners and donors who had helped in the restoration work and the funding of it.

He also thanked the professional contractors for their excellent work, in particular Philip Hughes & Associates, conservationist specialists; Fergus Brotherton, secretary to the Historic Churches Committee; Daedalus Conservation, the contractors; Andy Crossley, decorator; and Vince Rattenbury, electrician, as well as the property team at Plymouth Diocese.

Father Anthony stressed that the work would not have been possible without the generous financial assistance received from charitable and other grant making bodies, and he expressed appreciation to the Historic England Cultural Recovery Fund, acting through the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales; Dorset Historic Churches Trust; Lyme Regis Town Council; Allchurches Trust Ltd; Charlotte Marshall Charitable Trust; and Axe Vale Festival.

The parish received £200,806 in grants towards the overall costs of about £250,000 for the work on the exterior and interior.

Lyme Regis Town Council had been most generous in assisting the parish with a grant of £1,000 towards the roof and stonework repairs, and a further £1,000 to help redecorate the interior of the church.

Replying on behalf of the guests, the mayor emphasised how important the church and presbytery buildings were to the town, how prominently they were sited and how pleased the council was that the work of protecting part of the town’s heritage had been carried out.

Afterwards, the mayor toured the church and expressed great interest in the historic furnishings and decorations of the interior.

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