Holy Trinity Church in Long Melford launches £500,000 community fundraising drive to finance historic stained glass restoration
A campaign to preserve a 15th century church’s rare stained glass collection for future generations is set to begin later this month, when it kicks off a £500,000 community fundraising drive.
Holy Trinity Church in Long Melford will formally launch its Medieval Stained Glass Fund at a private event on January 31, to support a long-term ambition to restore eight unique windows that survived the vandalism suffered by the church during the Reformation and Civil War.
The first of these windows, which have deteriorated due to centuries of corrosion and grime build-up, has been restored, thanks to a financial bequest from descendants of John Clopton, a local wool tycoon who was the principal funder when the church was built in the 1400s.
The bequest will cover one more window, but, with the restoration of the entire set estimated at £800,000, the church is now looking to build public support to meet the project’s remaining cost.
The Rev Matthew Lawson, rector of Long Melford, said: “Visitors come from far and wide to admire the beauty and craftsmanship of our medieval stained glass.
“I’m delighted that we can now start displaying it to its full potential for the first time in hundreds of years, with the aid of this generous legacy.
“As handsome as the bequest was, it is not enough to cover the full restoration project, but we hope that a grass-roots fundraising drive will raise the profile of the glass, both locally and further afield, to make us all the more appreciative of this national treasure.”
Currently displayed above the north aisle of the church, the windows have been recognised by historians as extremely rare examples of stained glass, due to the quantity and detail of the artwork.
They primarily depict non-secular images of the donors who helped to finance the church’s construction, as well as friends and family of Mr Clopton.
The fundraising project, once completed, will enable the glass to be sent to Cathedral Studios, glass conservation specialists based at Canterbury Cathedral, to be professionally cleaned and then protected with an additional laminate layer.
It is expected that this work would take approximately five years to complete.
Holy Trinity Church fundraising committee member Simon Edge said the fundraising team is also keen to develop community outreach initiatives, including working with Long Melford Primary School to educate pupils about the church’s history and the people depicted in the stained glass.
“The village has been extremely supportive,” he told the Free Press.
“Everybody in Long Melford is very proud of the church. Some people are church goers and some aren’t, but they all agree that it’s one of our great landmarks.
“This will be a long-term campaign and we’re not expecting to raise the money immediately. But we want to get the project into the general conscience and help people to better understand how important it is.”
Fundraisers are expected to take place in the coming months, including an auction of promises, and the church confirmed it will bid for funding from grant-giving bodies.