St Sylvester’s Blog
21 October 2020
Each year many people travel to the South Hams for their annual holiday. The parish of Chivelstone is a popular destination with its rolling countryside, magnificent coastline and lovely Devon villages. For those who especially travel to Chivelstone, South Allington, East Prawle and East Portlemouth, they will all have one thing in common, they will all travel past the small turning to Chivelstone where the ancient tower of St Sylvester’s Church stands proud and commanding over the land all around it.
The exact date of consecration is unknown, but a church has definitely stood on this site since the end of the 13th century. The tower and chancel are part of an older structure, but around1536 the nave and aisles were rebuilt.
It just goes to show that church restoration isn’t a recent thing! The church has weathered well over the centuries but like all of us over a certain age, the creaks and groans of the passing years take their toll.
To address this, a stalwart group of parishioners decided to apply to the National Lottery Heritage Fund with the intention of obtaining funds to manage the repairs and restoration of this historic and beautiful place of worship. Vicky and Roger Tucker, Kate and Mark Jennings, Greg Weatherdon and Edward Baker, on behalf of the PCC, set about this process and found it was more than a little involved.
It is not just about asking for money, that is the easy part, it is also necessary to justify the request. The group had to provide a plan of works required; it needed to show what the church could offer in respect of activities to engage, not only with its congregation, but also the wider community. Undeterred, the team set about this task. They held an informative open evening in the parish community hall where they showed all their progress to date and what they hoped for going forwards. More importantly, they gave people the chance to engage, as volunteers and also as a source of further ideas. This was extremely well received locally and added a buzz of anticipation within the local community.
Since that initial meeting, there have been various activities such as a bat walk, bird walk, open day, musical evening, mummers play and due to Covid19 we have recently held an online bat chat – did you know bats are not blind?
All these events have created opportunities to raise funds. This has shown the commitment necessary for the National Lottery Heritage Fund to provide a large grant towards the restoration project so necessary to get St Sylvester’s back to its best.
Please note: I am local to the parish and will be watching and listening for items of interest. I love a good gossip and as nobody knows who I am, be careful what you say. Who knows, you may be the star of the next entry!
Future blog entries will detail the unique facets of the church, the Rood Screen, the one-piece pulpit, the sanctuary ring, just some of the fascinating items within the church. We will also provide details of events held and what we propose for the future, please look out for these. In the meantime the following links below may be of interest.
Next week, our local MP Anthony Mangnall, will be visiting the church and seeing all of the progress to date and our plans for the future. I’ll let you know what happened in due course.