Save Redlingfield Church

Redlingfield Church and dancers by Neville Butcher

The little village of Redlingfield has some big plans. As well saving its historic church – which is mentioned in the Domesday Book and dates from before 1086 – it also hopes to expand its recreation area and give the church a new lease of life.

The parish will be making a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund so it can not only repair and preserve St Andrew’s church  but also provide more facilities so it can better serve the community now and in the future including toilets, a kitchen, sustainable heating and lighting and secure and safe access from the village.

The village also hope to enlarge and improve its Doorstep Green – a three-quarter acre site close to the centre of the village. Opened in July 2006, it is a play, recreation and wildlife area that the whole village helped design and create over a three-year period with funding and help from a number of organisations and individuals.

Repairing and improving the church is expected to cost approximately £150,000 while it is hoped around £80,000 will be spent on enlarging and improving the Doorstep Green.

A survey of all villagers revealed overwhelming support for extending the Doorstep Green and improving the church to better meet the needs of the village.

Parish clerk Janet Norman-Philips said: “We worry that we don’t have enough for our young people and that access to the Doorstep Green needs to be far better for our older and less able citizens – who like to exercise there and sit at the many tables and benches in the flower gardens. There are lots of improvements people want. We have only a couple of items of play equipment and nothing for teenagers or toddlers. Our wildflower meadow and wildlife area is too small and we need more space and facilities for sport, ball games and sport and fitness equipment

 “The church would be right next door to an enlarged doorstep green – so bringing the two projects together makes so much sense.”

 “Our beautiful little church has been around for almost a thousand years but it is in a sorry state, the roof needs major work, we have damp problems and the electrics are in urgent need of repair. We simply have to save it but we want to do so much more with it so that the people living here in a thousand years’ time can still enjoy it.”

 “We are a rural village, surrounded by farmland and with no pavements in the village. Which is why having the Doorstep Green as our villages’ space to play, relax and contemplate is so important. Before it was created children played in the road and scuttled out of the way of the speeding traffic.”

 “We allow dogs on the Doorstep Green and we don’t provide litter bins (except when we have various “dos” there) but don’t have any problem with dog mess or litter – people respect it and take their rubbish home. We loan out sports equipment e.g. footballs, basket balls, and our rounders' set – they are always returned – in good order.

She added: “People are very involved and passionate about it – Everyone had a say in what it would be like – what plants we would have, what play equipment etc. Dozens of villagers volunteered their time to create it and they still look after it on a voluntary basis. It is used every day and is also the venue for our monthly “Pub on the Green” – a social gathering with a licensed bar run by the village throughout the summer months – which funds the village as we don’t raise a rate. Up to 80-100 people attend – depending on the weather!

 “When creating it we didn’t think deeply enough about future growth – we didn’t realise how popular it was going to be and we made it far, far too small.”

She said: “We were in the process of starting to fundraise and negotiating grants etc. with a view to purchasing an additional two acres to increase the size of the doorstep green in 2010/2011 when the financial crisis resulted in us having to postpone matters. Now is the time to take this exciting project forward to create something villagers will be able to enjoy for years to come.”

 “It’s not going to be easy or quick but if we all pull together we believe we can achieve it.

A recent architect’s report said that the church was considered a rare example of its kind.

Fund raising efforts have started with events planned for next year including a 1940s dance at the Red Feather Club in neighbouring Horham which will go towards the church fund.

Village artist Neville Butcher has also donated postcards of his picture of dancers in front of Redlingfield church to help save the historic building. The postcards are £1.50 each (every penny goes to save the church) from David & Jacqueline Love at Western Barn, Abbotts Meadow, Redlingfield, 01379 67880501379 678805  or email@davidlove.f9.co.uk.

The village’s big summer event on the Doorstep Green on Saturday July 19th will also raise funds for the church and village. Bar open 3pm, BBQ from 6pm. Games, raffles, tombola. Puddings being sold to raise funds for village church repairs. Tickets £6 - which entitle you to three portions from the BBQ - available from usual sources or contact Mike & Jan (01379 67883501379 678835, pc@redlingfield.suffolk.gov.uk Hidcote Lodge, Mill Road, Redlingfield). BBQ options are burgers, sausages and vegetarian.

 

 

By Mike Ager on July 4th, 2014

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