Mirfield Church added to heritage ‘at risk’ register

RESTORATION MAN The monument to Sir George Savile at Thornhill Parish Church.
RESTORATION MAN The monument to Sir George Savile at Thornhill Parish Church.

A Mirfield church has been added to English Heritage’s At Risk list - but it has proved to be a mixed blessing.

St Mary’s Church is currently undergoing a quarter of a million pound restoration project, and Rev Hugh Baker, priest in charge of Mirfield Team Parish, believes the recognition of the state of the historic building by the conservation body will help future bids for funding.

St Mary's Church in Mirfield.

St Mary's Church in Mirfield.

He said: “Obviously being on the At Risk register is a bad thing but we are doing everything we can to protect the church. In a sense, it is a good thing that it is now recognised that it is worth preserving.

“Hopefully this will help with future funding applications.”

The church is currently undergoing exploratory work in the tower area in the first phase of a £250,000 grant application to the Heritage Lottery Fund. The amount of money granted will depend on the exact work which needs doing, but Rev Baker said they still need to raise in the region of £25,000 on top of that to enable them to complete all the work which is thought to be needed.

The tower is particular, which is made of sandstone, has suffered the toll of years of metal thefts and weather damage.

There was further good news for the church in that Castle Hall Hill motte and bailey castle, which is in the grounds of St Mary’s, was removed from the register.

Rev Baker said it was down to the hard work of the Friends of St Mary’s Heritage Site, who spearheaded work on clearing and stabilising the site. Future works on signage and repairing a wall at the site are being considered.

Dewsbury Town Centre Conservation Area, which was recently successful in securing £2m from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help address the condition of the area, remains At Risk after being added to the list last year.

Hopton Congregational Church and the Church of St Michael and All Angels, otherwise known as Thornhill Parish Church, also remain on the list.

However, restoration work at the 9th century Thornhill church has begun.

The improvements include repairs to the roof and the 1614 monument to Sir George Savile and Lady Anne Savile.

Rev Sue Clarke said: “It’s quite a stunning piece of sculpture. It should look very grand when it’s restored.

“It’s such an historic church. I don’t think a lot of people realise what a treasure they have got there. People come from all over the world to visit it. Hopefully people will want to come and see it when it’s done - it belongs to the people of Thornhill.”

The bulk of the work is expected to take three months.

Across Yorkshire, there are 823 historic sites, buildings and places on the Heritage at Risk register - down 121 from last year.