Last updated - April 2017
Raising Funds for Putford Church
Why are we raising funds for wall paintings in Putford Church?
If you visit St Stephen’s Church in Putford, please take a minute to look at the wall opposite the door as you go in. The first thing that you will notice is that the interior generally needs re-decoration. Look more closely at the wall opposite you, the north wall. You will see that fragments of painted lettering is visible where the plaster has deteriorated.
The church dates back many centuries. There are numerous layers of plaster and white wash on the walls. As the ever present damp in the North Devon air has permeated the walls from the outside in, some of these layers have started to lift and to fall away. The lettering below has appeared in patches. Until we get experts to examine the lettering properly, it is impossible to say from when it dates. However, some guesses can be speculated upon.
It would seem to be The Ten Commandments. This is not an unusual text to be found on old church walls. Some speculation can be made about the language used, for example “ye”. It is possible that the writing could date back as far as Tudor times. Again, nothing is definite until proper examination is made.
Until we look further, we don’t know how much of the writing is still intact. It could simply be fragments.
The church is a Grade I Listed building. This means that even if we wished to, we cannot simply paint over the walls and the writing.
We need to eradicate as much of the damp in the walls as we can, and do our best to halt it coming in further. Once that has been stabilized, we need to have an expert conservator explore beneath the layers and see how much of the writing remains. Once the position is clear then we will have decisions to make based on the advice of the conservators and our conservation surveyor.
There are a number of possibilities. If the fragments are capable of being stabilized it may be possible to have a frame or “window” in the wall to reveal the paintings beneath the surface and to display them. If they are not, then it may be a question of re-decorating the wall in the most appropriate manner, which is likely to be lime washing rather than painting in modern paint.
In either event, we would want to re-decorate as much of the walls as we can in conservation limewash, as they currently appear rather dilapidated.
Where ancient buildings are concerned, it is always an adventure once you start a project such as this. It is pretty much impossible to say what will be revealed and the extent of the work needed.
We have therefore started to raise funds for the work and have so far held three events, a coffee morning in the church last October, a sale of jewellery and accessories last Christmas, and our recent Big Breakfast Event at Bradworthy Memorial Hall. We have also received a number of generous donations from parishioners and former parishioners. To date, we have raised almost one thousand pounds.
This is a large sum of money but a great deal more will be required before we can celebrate having a sympathetically restored church interior which will be a pleasure to be in.
The PCC ( Parochial Church Council ) have been greatly assisted by Myles Thomas and Steve Carter. We hope to be in a position to seek grants from bodies such as Historic England ( formerly known as English Heritage ) and the Historic Churches Trust. When we do apply to them we hope that our fundraising efforts will show that we have put our hearts and our backs into this challenge, and not just expected them to finance the works. We are in this for the long haul.
We plan to hold further events in the coming months and years. Among the ideas are a cream tea in the summer, a walk around the parish, and another coffee morning. When we have future events, we will publicise them here on the website, and we will keep you all informed regularly as to our progress with articles such as this one.
There is much support in the parish for the church. Although congregations are small, as they are in many churches, they are large for the big occasions in the year, Easter, Harvest Festival, Remembrance Day and Christmas. The parish supports the church so that it is there for the big occasions in life, baptisms, weddings and funerals. It is also, of course, the last remaining public building in the parish now that the school and the chapel have closed.
If you have any questions, comments, suggestions and indeed donations, please contact the PCC via myself on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01409 241653!
PCC Secretary and Treasurer
A Word From The Parochial Church Council
The Parochial Church Council is the local committee which looks after the church.
St Stephen’s receives a great deal of support from the wider local community but lately congregations have been getting perilously small.
We have been holding three services a month but have decided that it would be more sensible and realistic to consolidate this into two, which we hope will be better attended.
The services are likely to be at 11.30am on the first Sunday of the month and an Evensong service at 6.30pm on the third Sunday of the month. They will be publicized here on the website and on the notice board in the church porch.
On Easter Saturday there will be a special service at 7.30pm called the Lighting of the New Fire. This promises to be picturesque and colourful involving the lighting of a flame with all the congregation holding lighted candles.
Please try to come along if you can, You will be very welcome. It would be great to see you there and even better to see you at the regular services.
Inside Raleigh Barn
1940s Paintings of Raleigh and Putford
These pictures were sent to us recently by Mitzi Burton who was evacuated to Putford with her mother and brother in 1940. They were painted by her father, John Maule, when he was on leave from the RAF in 1943/44. Sadly he was shot down on 25/26th August, 1944 and has no known grave. Mitzi was at Raleigh, living in the front two rooms, when the telegram arrived to report him missing.
Mitzi was only 10 years old when she lived in Putford and often used to walk to and from the 'great metropolis' of Bradworthy. She told us that on one occasion, she was riding her bike down Putford hill and fell off, knocking herself unconscious and a 'dashing' Dr Betts came to her rescue!
Myles & Sarah Thomas
Don't Forget to Vote!
Devon County Council elections take place on Thursday 4th May.
Did you know that the boundaries have changed? The Parishes of East and West Putford fall into the Waldon Ward which is now part of Holsworthy Rural within Torridge District Council.