Historic church launches fundraising bid

A Grade II listed church with connections to the Brontë family must raise hundreds of thousands of pounds to pay for vital refurbishment work.

St Mary the Blessed Virgin church in Gomersal, which was built in 1851, is suffering from dry rot, floods, leaks and needs new guttering, draining and masonry work.

IN NEED The Rev Karen Nicholl is launching a fundraising project at  St Mary's Church, Gomersal. (D523J405)

IN NEED The Rev Karen Nicholl is launching a fundraising project at St Mary's Church, Gomersal. (D523J405)

Mary Taylor, lifelong friend of Charlotte Brontë, is buried in the Churchyard. Mary inspired the character Rose Yorke in Charlotte’s novel Shirley.

Vicar of the church, the Rev Karen Nicholl, said: “We were shocked about how much needed doing and how long it is going to take but we are really getting stuck into it now.

“We have problems with dry rot, numerous leaks and floods. Some of the structure would likely become unsafe in the forseable future if not dealt with now.”

Work includes repairing and relaying the roof, replacing the 150-year-old drainage system and guttering, and masonry work.

She said: “The church building has been repaired numerous times and it often seems like a never ending job trying to keep up with the leaks which often happen simultaneously in various parts of the church.”

MS Nicholl said the work had been broken into three stages. In April work will start on the roof; £93,000 has been awarded by English Heritage and £10,000 from other bodies.

The church is applying for £250,000 from the Lottery Heritage Fund towards the second phase, but more will need to be raised. And money will be needed to fund the third phase.

Ms Nicholl added: “When the building works are completed St Mary’s Church will also hopefully be brought into the 21st century with modern energy saving features including solar panels and effective insulation.

“It is likely to be another three to four years before we look at completion.”

Members are organising events to boost funds.

The first is a concert by York City Gospel Choir on Saturday March 1. Tickets are £8 which includes a glass of wine and light refreshments. Phone 01274 872164.