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Please help us by donating £5 a piece to St Sylvester’s Church jigsaw puzzle:




See Joe’s latest drone video with the church in scaffolding on
St Sylvester’s YouTube

St Sylvester’s Blog

3 March 2021

There are two sections to this current blog – the first part is about the virtual jigsaw puzzle of the Church and the second part is photographs of progress of the restoration work.

In order to raise more money for the Church Repair Project, Sarah and Michael Douglas have created a virtual jigsaw puzzle of St Sylvester’s Church on the JustGiving website. Every £5 donated adds a piece to the puzzle, which has 1000 pieces. In this way we hope to raise £5000.

Mike will update the puzzle on the website at regular intervals by adding pieces of the jigsaw according to the donation received. You can see below the start of the project.

Virtual Jigsaw Puzzle as fundraising St Sylvester's Church for jigsaw puzzle

Please help us by donating £5 a piece to the above jigsaw puzzle:

Westcountry Stonemasons have been very busy at the Church and are getting on really well. Below are just some of the photographs to show you what has been happening. The first few photographs are of the South Porch with a photograph showing you how the porch was before they started.


St Sylvester’s Blog

12 January 2021

The contractors started on 4 January 2021 as anticipated. Feeling like naughty children we were told to keep away from the Church, except by specific arrangement. This is because the contractors, Westcountry Stonemasons, now have sole possession of the Church until the contract completion in November 2021. They are responsible for all site Health and Safety including compliance with Covid regulations.

We will not be allowed into the Church without their permission. Therefore please do not turn up hoping to go inside to see what is happening.

The photographs below are the clearing of the earth and grass around the Church. We have dug down to the original level that was covered with gravel. After everything has finished we will replace the gravel, although some of the original still remains. There are also a few photographs of the Church in scaffolding.

St Sylvester’s Blog

23 December 2020

Once again today’s blog consists largely of photographs: finishing off the space from the removed pews and photographs from the Christingle service last Sunday taking advantage of the new space.

On Monday 4 January 2021 Westcountry Stonemasons start work on the Church. We will keep you updated with photographs and information as to how things are going. We will not be allowed into the Church without their permission. Therefore please do not turn up hoping to go inside to see what is happening.

St Sylvester’s Blog

17 December 2020

This instalment of the blog consists of photographs depicting what has been happening to the Church in the last couple of months:

  • Removing the pews from the back of the Church to create a working space for more community activities
  • Bringing mains water into the Church: laying a water supply for the new toilet/shower and, if we can raise additional funds for a new kitchenette, all to facilitate greater community use of the Church
  • The pre-start meeting with Le Page Architects and the contractors Westcountry Stonemasons Contractors to get ready for physical site start on 4 January to make the Church weather proof and structurally sound

There will be another blog very soon with more photographs showing how the exposed wiring has been concealed to complete the clearing of the area at the back of the Church.






St Sylvester’s Blog

30 November 2020

As always, the Remembrance Service at the Church was a special occasion. The short service was outside with Jane Bickle playing the organ inside. There were 19 people all standing around the war memorial. The poppies are the ones created for Remembrance Sunday in 2018 – they have been put up and will stay till after Christmas.

We are pleased to announce that the National Lottery Heritage Fund are happy with our plans for the restoration work and have approved our contractor of choice, so all being well the hammers and chisels will be pounding away inside the church from the 4th January 2021.  Some of our local residents, namely the bats, are not so happy and we have to wait until April to start on the exterior.

Our ‘Ecology Lady’ came to the church last week to block up all the nooks and crannies and maybe a few crooks and nannies!  She is pictured on the right going up the tower. She will remove all the bats from inside their hiding places and bat boxes will be installed allowing our selection of Lesser Horseshoe, Noctules, Pipistrelles, Brown and Grey Long Eared bats all to enjoy comfy, local (affordable) housing. This will allow them to keep an eye on developments from a safe distance. It has been said that one of their Romanian cousins, Vlad somebody or other, is planning a holiday here once the lockdown is over. Apparently, he’s not an avid churchgoer!

If anyone is on the run from traffic wardens, they can always seek sanctuary at the church as we have a sanctuary ring. The sanctuary ring was a metal ring attached to the door of a church. A fugitive from the law had only to touch the knocker in order to claim the right of sanctuary. This allowed him to stay in the church, free from prosecution, for a period of time, usually 40 days.

Our intrepid team have been doing a lot of clearing of the gulley at the back of the church (Roger & Vicky Tucker, Mark Jennings and Edward Baker). Grownups love playing mudpies and this bunch are no exception!

We recently had a visit from our local MP Anthony Mangnall – he came to the church and stood in the pulpit. He asked if he could help in any way….. We’ll think of something.

Inside the church is an old ‘Tortoise’ coke fired stove, it is pretty dilapidated and looks rather sorry for itself. Vicky Tucker mentioned that a dead bat had been found in one of them!  I hope it wasn’t Uncle Vlad arriving early!

In days gone by the same type of tortoise stove was used in our village school. In the winter the coke fired ‘tortoise’ had to be lit every morning in time to warm the building for the 9am start.

There is a great deal going on at the moment to do with the start of the repairs to the Church. Too much for this edition, so there will be another fairly soon.


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.

Hibernating bat

Hibernating bat

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.

Bat on finger

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.

Children in the medieval pulpit on Open Day 21 July 2019

Open Day 21 July 2019

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.


The narrow lane leading down to St Sylvester's Church

The narrow lane leading down to St Sylvester’s Church

Water coming through the tower wall

Water coming through the tower wall, February 2020


Launch party on 22 February 2019


Mummers Play 6 January 2020 Henry VIII

Henry VIII at Mummers Play 6 January 2020