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Trust will protect Stamford church

The rector of St Martin’s Church in Stamford has launched a trust to lead efforts to conserve the church and is appealing to people that are passionate about Stamford’s heritage and history – regardless of their beliefs.

Built between 1482 and 1485, St Martin’s Church is one of the largest in Stamford and is said to be one of the finest examples of complete Perpendicular church architecture in the country.

The church has a strong association with the Cecil family, which has owned Burghley House for more than 16 generations. Its chapel houses the tombs of Sir Richard Cecil and William Cecil, first Lord Burghley.

Two of William Cecil’s descendants - The Marquess of Salisbury and The Marquess of Exeter– have agreed to be patrons of the trust.

Speaking at the launch of the trust on Thursday last week, Father Gavin Cooper, said: “It is a great privilege for us as a community to have this wonderful building, which has stood on this site for more than 500 years.

“Through the conservation trust, we are reaching out to the local community to help ensure it is here for another 500 years, whether they attend church or simply want to help maintain a precious part of Stamford’s heritage.”

St Martin’s does not receive any financial assistance for the daily running costs. The task of running, maintaining and funding the building has, until now, been covered by the generosity of a small group of people.

Three urgent projects, with a combined cost of £104,000, have already been identified: replacing rotten roof timbers and re-leading the North clerestory roof, removing and replacing the lead roof on the South clerestory to prevent leaks and repairs to the masonry battlements on the nave roof.

Father Cooper said: “Our vision is that St Martin’s Church Conservation Trust is able to both raise the funds for, and assist in the execution of restoration projects and essential works. Money raised by the trust will be solely used for the building and not for the diocese or the working life of the church. This is entirely about the building and its heritage – not about God or religion.”

The trust is now looking for people to fill critical roles, including a new chairperson to steer the trust and work in partnership with the rector and church wardens to assess where the trust can offer most assistance and which projects are our priorities. It is also looking for permanent trustees to help guide the trust and determine how it should grow.

The trust is also keen to begin building a strong membership base and begin raising money through fundraising events, grants and other financial assistance. InvestSK, South Kesteven District Council’s inward-investment arm, has already been advising the church’s venture.

Members will also have access to a year-round programme of events, including tours, concerts, lectures and receptions.

“The trust is not just about donations,” said Father Cooper. “It is about serious and worthy engagement with heritage and conservation bodies. This building is here for everyone to visit and enjoy, but most of all is an important part of this parish’s life, part of Stamford’s heritage, and part of this country’s history.”

The Marquess of Salisbury said at the event: “I am very honoured to have been asked to be a patron of the St Martin’s Church Conservation Trust and fully intend to be actively involved in its work.”

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