FRIENDS OF LEIGH CHURCH
Registered charity number (England and Wales): 1174913
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Friends of Leigh Church (FOLC) is a registered charity set up in 2015 with a specific remit to fundraise for urgent repairs to St Giles, the Grade 1 listed parish church in Leigh on Mendip, and to develop the church building for wider community use.
We now have over 130 local members as well as supporters across Somerset and the UK, many with family connections to the village spanning many generations.
The historic importance of our church
A church in Leigh was first recorded in the 13th century, as a chapel of ease connected to St Andrew’s, a larger church in the parish of Mells. In the late 14th century, the current parish of Leigh on Mendip was established and the first church, as we would recognise the building today, was built between 1350 and 1390.
Over the centuries numerous additions and changes have been made to the building. During a series of renovations in the 19th and 20th centuries the historical and artistic value of various features was fully recognised. These include a nearly complete set of medieval pews that is now considered to be of national importance, fragments of medieval stained glass and original woodwork.
When this list of treasures is added to the splendour of St Giles’ external appearance, with its distinctive ‘Somerset tower’, one of the very best examples of this local feature, the true importance of our beautiful church becomes clear.
Saving our Church
The Quinquennial report written in 2016 identified that urgent repairs were needed to the church, particularly the 300-year-old roof lead, which was leaking badly. Without immediate action, the church building was considered to be at considerable structural risk from rapid deterioration that would only be exacerbated by bad weather and further benign neglect.
We quickly assembled a project team to meet these challenges, including specialist conservation experts and committed members of the village community, and we acted swiftly to apply for funding to carry out the essential work. Substantial grants worth a total of £300,000 were secured primarily from applications to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund, with further support from numerous other organisations.
This funding, with further income raised by FOLC’s own ongoing fundraising programme, paid for the vital work on the roof and nave, helping to stabilise the building.
Click here to watch the video of how we saved our church
Leigh Church at the heart of the village
The National Lottery Heritage Fund grant also supported the addition of various amenities in the church, including a heritage display area, café facilities and an accessible toilet.
These community-based initiatives have encouraged villagers to make more use of the church, which is now a flexible and well-equipped space for local activities.
New interest from outside the area has also been encouraged with the creation of a village heritage trail, while improved access to church records and other information provides a valuable resource for genealogists and other historians and enthusiasts.
Strong connections have also been forged with the village primary school, helping teachers to develop their pupils’ interest in the history they see around them.
What the future holds for Leigh Church
While the church is now in a better state of repair than in 2015, it remains vulnerable. The next phase of work, to help keep the church dry and weatherproof, is being planned, but we desperately need to secure more funds to make it happen.
Can you help us?
All the money we raise, including membership subscriptions, directly supports our work.
It only costs £12 a year to join FOLC as a member and help ensure the future of our beautiful church. If you would like to become a member, please complete the application form available via the link below and return it with your payment to the address shown on the form.
FOLC membership application / donation form
If you prefer to pay your membership subscription using online banking, you will also find our bank details and payment instructions on the application form.
All the donations we receive help us protect and preserve Leigh Church and keep it at the heart of the village community. You can make a gift using the form above, or if you prefer you can use our online donation form at https://wonderful.co.uk/pay?ref=1174913 to give via open banking.
For more information about FOLC’s work, or if you have any questions about membership or ways you can support us, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
We will reply as quickly as we can.
FOLC’s commitment to our church and village will continue for as long as we are needed, ensuring that St Giles remains at the very heart of our community for generations to come.
The FOLC team are:
Alexandra Lee (Lally) – email email@example.com Tel 812268
Caroline Harris – e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Tel 812889
Dave Mattick – e-mail email@example.com Tel 812734
Jo Carter – e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Tel 812109
Richard Blaker – email email@example.com Tel 813552