Friends of St John the Baptist Church
The Friends of St John the Baptist Church are a charitable trust dedicated to the restoration and preservation of the Parish Church in Chelveston-cum-Caldecott. They are not all involved in the religious life of the church but are dedicated to maintaining the fabric of the beautiful listed 13th Century building.
Many of the regular congregation are indeed Friends, but so too are non-church going villagers who are keen to preserve this key part of our history and community.
Where is the Church?
The Church from Bidwell Lane
Unlike many villages of a similar size, the parish church is not sited in the centre of the village, but rather is located between the settlements of Chelveston and Caldecott.
As such our church can be "out of sight and out of mind". This is a blessing which ensures that its peace is undisturbed, but is also a challenge in that non-church goers can forget about the care and attention it needs.
Why do we need Friends?
Over the years, the congregation of many churches has fallen. Although we have a thriving congregation in Chelveston, they cannot personally shoulder the whole burden of caring for beautiful examples of medieval craftsmanship we find in our church. Even though many villagers do not attend the church regularly, we know that many do value both the church and the churchyard. This is especially so on those key family occasions when the peace and humble beauty of our church can make all the difference.
The church and churchyard are a key part of our heritage and most villagers would hate to see them fall into disrepair for lack of funds for their maintenance. The Friends has been formed to protect and preserve this heritage.
What has been achieved so far?
In 1980 the bell tower was restored with the help of the 305th Bombardment Group Memorial Association from the USA and a memorial plaque on the tower is dedicated to their memory.
Until 2004 there was no mains water into the church. Through fund raising, we now have a servery for providing refreshments at social functions and a toilet facility. This enables much greater use of the building for community activities. More recently a sound system has been installed.
We have also rebuilt part of the churchyard wall and created much better access to the area of the churchyard used to intern ashes. This has been much welcomed as more villagers bring the ashes of loved ones home to the village. As those living in the village will know we also now have a beautiful functioning clock, with chimes that can be heard across the village throughout the day.
What is our vision?
The church will always be a special place of worship, but it has so much more to offer as a unique venue for events, exhibitions and concerts, all of which will promote and strengthen its position at the heart of the community.
We need to raise funds to help restore and preserve this historical building for use not only for today's worshippers and villagers but also for the generations who will follow. We need to raise funds both for restoration projects today and to gradually build an endowment fund that will generate income for long term preservation.
How can you help?
Snowdrops in the Churchyard in February
Firstly you can help by supporting our fund raising events. Our Snowdrop Weekend in February is already a great success and a good fund raising event. However, we need ideas for more events which will attract both villagers and visitors from the surrounding areas.
Secondly, you could become a Friend of St John the Baptist Church by making an annual donation to a specific project or by making a small monthly pledge to build the endowment fund.
Monies raised by fund raising or donations will be ring fenced for restoration and maintenance works and will not be used in the day to day running of the church and its ministry. Gift Aiding your donation will make it go so much further. As a charity we are able to claim back the appropriate tax paid from the Government.
Who do I contact?
Arthur Wright (Churchwarden)