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Jigsaw percentage November

We are up to 65% but as always we need more!

Please click the image above to donate £5 a piece to the jigsaw puzzle to help fund repairs for St Sylvester’s Church

Make sure to have a look at Lynne Humphries’ documents on techniques for cleaning the pulpit: During conservation and Varnish removal.




Links to videos on YouTube from:

Cleaning the Church: Removing cover of the Rood Screen

Open Day: Bell ringing

Frankie singing with Mat

The Choir

Pulpit cleaning: A session cleaning the pulpit

St Sylvester’s Blog

29 November 2021

The end is in sight. The scaffolding is down. All construction work to the Church should be completed at the end of next week by Friday 10 December (subject to the weather).

St Sylvester's Church restored from afar

The carcass of the new kitchen is in position. We are still trying to raise money to pay for it, so please visit our jigsaw puzzle. We also need extra money to buy a cooker and washing machine intended for the space below the counter on the left hand side.

The new staircase up to the bell ringing chamber has been fitted, as has the new inner West Door.

New-kitchen in St Sylvester's Church New inner west door to St Sylvester's Church stairs to bell ringing chamber at St Sylvester's Church
The kitchen carcass The new inner West Door with the toilet and shower enclosure on the right The new stairs to the bell ringing chamber (awaiting hand rails)


Pulpit cleaning in the cold at St Sylvester's Church

Further restoration to the pulpit in the cold weather

Please see below the wonderfully transformed pulpit. Also Lynne Humphries, the conservator, sent us two brilliant documents showing their work. These were put up a while ago but are well worth looking at – it is very interesting to see the delicacy of their work: During conservation and Varnish removal.

St Sylvester’s Blog

27 October 2021

A view of St Sylvester’s Church from above and the newly restored pulpit.

St Sylvester's Church restored

Restored Pulpit in St Sylvester's Church 

St Sylvester’s Blog

7 October 2021

It’s been a busy time for the Church. The contractors gave us back access to the interior of the Church on 22 September, three days before the Open Day. It needed a great deal of cleaning! Many thanks to the team of volunteers who spent three days returning the Church to a usable state.

On the Saturday 25 September we had our Open Day, which is a Lottery commitment. This was a big success with many people attending, and once again, many thanks to all the volunteers who helped. Thank you also to Nicky Bailey and Adam Davison of the South Devon AONB. See the Open Day page for greater detail.

On Monday 27 September Lynne Humphries and Emma Norris started their work to restore the paintwork of the pulpit. It will take them about three weeks to complete and on Monday, 4 October, they gave us a series of fascinating talks about their work and showed us the beginnings of what the pulpit will look like when they have finished. Please also see Cleaning the Pulpit Special Event page for more detail.

We took a lot of photographs of all three events some of which you will see below.

Cleaning the Church
Interior of the church before cleaningThe Church before cleaning  Cleaning the Church once access was given from the builders Johnie Parry cleaning the inside of windows
Unwrapping the rood screen while cleaning the Church
The Open Day 25 September 2021
Dressing-up at the Open Day Group on Open Day Bug hunting and crafts at Open Day for St Sylvester's Church wildlife hunting Chivelstone churchyard
Frankie Mat and Luki Bakerat the Open Day 25 September 2021 Storytelling by Sara Hurley Open Day for Church 25-9-21 The  choir at St Sylvester's Church Open Day Dressing up at the Open Day at Chivelstone Church on 25-9-21
Cleaning of the Pulpit 4 October 2021

This was a most extraordinary and exciting event – quite beyond what we expected. The afternoon was divided into five sessions, so that different small groups could get a clear view of the pulpit. Lynne and Emma, the conservators, described in detail their techniques for cleaning off the old varnish to reveal the original colours. They use magnifiers linked to a computer, which showed all the different colours in great detail, including silver and gold leaf. By taking minute paint samples and analysing them they have found that very little touching up seems to have been done, but there are two layers of varnish both of which have discoloured. Once removed the original colours, as painted in the 1480s, will be revealed. They will be sealed with a modern varnish that does not discolour.

First session at Cleaning the Pulpit 4 October 2021 Detailed colours on pulpit

St Sylvester’s Blog

9 September 2021

Important dates in September:

18/19 September Ash Park Gardens open; 25 September The Church Open Day for the Lottery Project. Please come and support both events.

A lot has been happening recently. The good news is that the repointing of the tower is three quarters complete. The bad news is that we are not allowed to ring the bells for at least six months whilst the new mortar sets. This will mean that we cannot do bell ringing classes at our Open Day. Therefore, we are arranging for several other musical events to take place instead. These will include hand bell ringing. More details in a week or so.

We have been lucky to obtain a grant from the Beatrice Laing Trust for £5000 to help pay for a kitchenette. Although we need more funds to complete it, we have decided to go ahead whilst the building contractors are on site. This was part of the conditions for receiving the grant. Below is a drawing of the kitchenette.

Kitchenette drawing for St Sylvester's Chivelstone

Chris Jones of Smith & Jones Design is helping us with the new “Interpretation” for the Church. This is all part of the Lottery project. “Interpretation” is the information boards and leaflets that will be in the Church for all visitors. Part of this is a touchscreen computer which will hold a lot of information relating to the Church itself, the community and several other subjects of interest. These can be updated whenever necessary. Below we give a concept drawing of this interpretation. These towers will be movable.

Interpretation towers for display in St Sylvester's Church

In the previous blog we showed the window being taken out for repair. In this one we show the window slowly being rebuilt.

The window before the repairs

The window chosen to be fully repaired as part of the Lottery grant.

Parts of the new stonework for window repair

Parts of the new stonework for window repair

Rebuilding the window at St Sylvester's Church, Chivelstone

Rebuilding the window at St Sylvester’s Church, Chivelstone

Refitting the window at St Sylvesters, Chivelstone

Refitting the window at St Sylvesters, Chivelstone

Remaking the window from outside

Remaking the window from outside

Pointing the window up from inside

Pointing the window up from inside

The Vestry ceiling has been repaired. This was not as straightforward as it might seem, as the plaster work was a relatively unusual reed plastering, which is only undertaken by specialist firms.

Repairing vestry ceiling

Repairing vestry ceiling

Reed materials for repairing vestry ceiling

Reed materials for repairing vestry ceiling

Close up of the pre-wired reeds for repairing vestry ceiling

Close up of the pre-wired reeds for repairing vestry ceiling


Please keep donating to our jigsaw puzzle.

St Sylvester’s Blog

12 August 2021

The good news is that we now have a date for the cleaning of the XVth century pulpit. It will start at the end of September. We are planning to have a further “hard hat day” (for the Lottery) during the week of 4 October, when it will be possible to see the before and after work on the pulpit. As soon as a date is confirmed we will let you know. Originally the pulpit was painted in bright colours, but over the years it has been varnished over to such an extent that the colours hardly show. Once cleaned, the original colours will be seen again. There is only one pulpit that is similar to the one in the Church. It can be found in Holne Church and was restored a few years ago. Ours should look similar when completed. Below please see a photograph of our pulpit and the restored one in Holne Church.

St Sylvester's pulpit and Holne pulpit

The rest of the blog is largely photographs taken by our architect, Amanda Le Page, of parts of the tower and the stonemasons’ work on the repointing of the tower.

The masons are working near the top still but going well

The east side of the Church including the vestry

Masons working near the top of the tower

The masons are working near the top still but going well!

The tower top seen from the east

The tower top seen from the east

The new pointing on the west elevation of the tower – a small amount of pointing to be dressed back ( see bottom left) but this was done during the architect's visit.

The new pointing on the west elevation of the tower – a small amount of pointing to be dressed back (see bottom left) but this was done during the architect’s visit

The inner parapet looking north

Inner parapet pointing in progress

The inner parapet looking north.  The pointing has been tended and in various stages of drying as you can see.  Once the platform is removed the stonemasons can point the lower “triangle” of wall left at this level, to both north and south.


St Sylvester’s Blog

20 July 2021

Please keep donating to our jigsaw puzzle.

Latest photographs

View showing boarded up window

Close up of boarded up window

Seat next to Priest’s door removed to allow the wall to be repointed

Shipwreck Sailor Stories

As we have already mentioned, as part of our Lottery project Nicky Bailey, our partner from the South Devon AONB, has been working with Sara Hurley to create a film based around the Blizzard of 1891 and the wreck of the Marana, which took place near Start Point. The idea of this film was to circulate it amongst the local schools and ask the children to write the ending. For full details please go to the Shipwrecked Sailors page.

The first part of the film was made in Chivelstone churchyard, next to gravestones of sailors who perished in the storm of 1891 from the wreck of the Marana. Sara’s story telling was based on a character of the wife of Mr Perry, the coastguard. This was sent to all the participating schools with an information pack about the wreck and guidance notes.

Stokenham, Charleton, Salcombe and Malborough Primary Schools took part. Over 120 stories were written and we the judges (Nicky, Sarah, Vicky, Kate and Mark) had to read them all. It was really quite difficult to decide amongst so many. Again full details can be found on the Shipwrecked Sailors page.

The overall winner was Ayla from Malborough:

Shipwreck Stories overall winner

Nicky Bailey, Ayla, Sara Hurley








The winning story was filmed, again being narrated by Sara Hurley in the character of Mrs Perry.

Click on the links below:



St Sylvester’s Blog

3 July 2021

The Hard Hat Day event took place on Tuesday 27 June, with 28 people attending 6 sessions and was a great success. Everyone was asked to complete a survey and below are some of the comments made.

Amazing local craftsmen! Community spirit. An asset that I can now see could now last another 1000 years

How much effect bats have on a project like this.

The work involved to rebuild the church porch. Literally rebuilt by hand. Also how a small bat can totally rearrange the order that work is completed. The tremendous community spirit that a small parish can come together to support each other to preserve such a beautiful historic building. 

The extent of the renovations. The work that has been done to underpin the front porch. The plans for future activities in the church.

What Stonemasons can achieve. Underpinning the stone porch. Repair /renewal of stone mullions. Timing of work to coincide with different bat species’ activity. History of the Church.

The pulpit is such a unique example. 

That an 8 metre foundation had to be dug to support the porch – and that it is now completely invisible.

We had a very informative visit and we’re delighted to see the work already completed.



Very interesting talking to the stone masons, and so impressed at the skill and care they take to get everything exactly like it was those many years ago. It gives you a real insight into the skills those people had especially without the modern equipment that we use today

Very impressed by the direct contribution of local farmers to the restoration of this magnificent church – a very large building in a tiny hamlet. One farmer dug a trench around the church to drain the footings; another provided stone for repairing a wall.

So interesting to hear from the architect and builder the techniques used to stabilise the building.

It was fascinating to watch the stonemasons at work and also to learn about how the bats’ habitat is being protected.

This was a well organised visit to bring the parish and wider community into contact with this project. It was informative not only about the technical detail of the restoration but also about the ambitions of the community to make this church relevlent to the community at large in the future. In its new guise the church will support visitors to the area by providing shelter to those walking the coast path and engaging in other outdoor pursuits in this attractive par of the country.


Full explanations can be found of the Hard Hat Day page on the website.

Here are two videos taken on the Hard Hat Day (click on the photographs):

South Porch after renovation

South Porch after renovation

Bell tower screen

New bell tower screen

Westcountry Stonemasons have now started on repairing the windows. See more photographs below.

St Sylvester’s Blog

16 June 2021

The Church is slowly hatching from the scaffolding, in which it has been living for the last few months. Although it will be several more months before it finally emerges, we are beginning to see the results of all of the work.

Renovated south side of St Sylvester's Church June 2021

Vestry end of St Sylvester's Church Chivelstone Vestry end of St Sylvester's Church Chivelstone
Dusk/Bird Walk

The weather for the Dusk/Bird Walk on 27 May was perfect. Adam Davison took twenty one people round the lanes from St Sylvester’s Church, Chivelstone. Everybody enjoyed themselves and felt they had a greater understanding of bird habitats as well as more about the Renovation of St Sylvester’s Church funded by the Lottery.

Birdwalk around St Sylvester's Church Chivelstone Birdwalk around St Sylvester's Church Chivelstone
Film of Shipwrecked sailors

Nicky Bailey, our partner from the South Devon AONB, has been working with Sara Hurley to create a film based around the Blizzard of 1891 and the wreck of the Marana, which took place near Start Point. Nicky has invited various schools to take part in writing the end of the story. The best story will be added to the end of the film.

The four schools involved in writing the ending of the film created by Sara Hurley and Nicky Bailey are : Stokenham Primary School, Charleton C of E School, Malborough Primary School and Salcombe C of E School. All schools have sent us stories from their schools to be judged. There are just over 100 stories. Nicky Bailey, Sara Hurley, Kate and Mark Jennings and Vicky Tucker read all the stories and have agreed the winner and runners up (no easy task). This still has to be finalised, but it has been wonderful to read the stories written with such enthusiasm and gusto. It is hoped to finalise the film shortly and then make the announcements.

Peas for Bees!

A date for your calendar: On Sunday 27 June between 1 and 4 pm there will be the Prawle Bees Discovery Day, on East Prawle Village Green. Bug hunts, wildlife walk and much more including Chivelstone Church Stalls.

Although nothing actually to do with the Church as such, the South Devon AONB are helping to protect East Prawle’s rare and special species. The Six Banded Nomad Cuckoo bee survives only at Prawle Point. The Long Horned Mining bee is also extremely rare. The AONB have produced packs of seeds and instructions so that people can grow the flowers to help the bees. These can be collected from the Piglet Stores. Flowers from the pea family are an important source of nectar and pollen for a range of wild bees and other pollinating insects.

Rob Bunn came on the Dusk/Bird walk and mentioned that he had managed to take a couple of photographs.

Bees at Prawle Point

JustGiving jigsaw

This has been going really well and so far we have raised £2,515 or 50%. We really need to reach our target, so if you haven’t contributed so far please help us. Click here for the link to the jigsaw.

The Church Fête at South Allington House will go ahead on Sunday 1 August – fingers crossed!


St Sylvester’s Blog

4 May 2021

St Sylvester’s Church is now completely scaffolded. The Church normally looks as above, but not at the moment. It’s a spectacular sight.

Scaffolded St Sylvester's Church from road

Drone Video

Joe Johnson has now created another drone video of the Church, this time completely surrounded in scaffolding. It is wonderful to see the progress being made to the repairs of the Church. The video is now available on St Sylvester’s YouTube. Thank you Joe.

Joe Johnson with his drone

Bird Walk 20 May – postponed until 27 May

Dusk wildlife walk around Chivelstone – numbers strictly limited

Join Adam Davison from the AONB team for an evening walk around some of the paths and green lanes of Chivelstone, catching the birds as they settle down for the day and the bats coming out for the night! The walk is run in partnership with the Chivelstone Church restoration and community project, volunteers from the team will give an update on this exciting project at the start of the walk from the churchyard.

Numbers are strictly limited, please book your place to get your free ticket from the AONB website and bring it with you to register on the day. Anyone without a ticket will not be able to join us on the walk. Register for your free ticket here. This event will be run in line with the current COVID-19 restrictions at the time. Meet at St Sylvester’s Church, Chivelstone, TQ7 2LY.

Hard Hat Day 25 May – postponed until 22 June

We are planning on having a hard hat day on 25 May. Westcountry Stonemasons, who are doing all the work to the Church, will conduct short guided tours to show the work they have been doing and answer any questions. These will be 20 minute sessions, but we can only have five people at a time, so we will have to allot time to anyone who wants to take part. If  you are interested in taking part please can you email

The JustGiving jigsaw has been going really well and so far we have raised £2,235 or 44%. We really need to reach our target, so if you haven’t contributed so far please help us. Click here for the link to the jigsaw.

The Church Fête at South Allington House will go ahead on Sunday 1 August – fingers crossed!

St Sylvester’s Blog

31 March 2021

The builders, Westcountry Stonemasons, are getting on extremely well and are currently on target. The structural repairs to the South Porch and the Vestry are nearly complete. See the photographs further below. They are starting to scaffold the tower, which should be completed in about two weeks time, at which time the whole church will still be scaffolded. We hope to take a drone video of this, before they start removing some of the scaffolding from the other end of the Church. At some point in the future we will try to arrange a day when visitors can go and see the Church and talk to the builders.

The JustGiving jigsaw is going really well and so far we have raised £2,020 or 40%.

The Church Fête at South Allington House will go ahead on Sunday 1 August – fingers crossed!


To see the blogs from November 2020 to 3 March 2021 go to the Blog Archive.