Little Maplestead: Funding boost for repairs to round church

Chris Gosling at The Round Church in Little Maplestead

Chris Gosling at The Round Church in Little Maplestead - Credit: Archant

EFFORTS to restore Essex’s only round church have received a funding boost.

Supporters of St John the Baptist church in Little Maplestead have been handed £5,000 by the National Churches Trust to go towards on-going repair work.

The latest donation means £42,000 has been raised for the restoration of the historic 13th-Century building since a fund-raising campaign was launched two years ago.

The church is one of only four remaining working medieval round churches nationwide. The other three can be found in London, Northampton and Cambridge.

The Friends of the Round Church, a registered charity created to raise money for the repairs in Essex, has set a target of £100,000 to complete the project. Several phases of repair work have already been carried out by specialist builders Bakers of Danbury.

Treasurer Chris Gosling said: “We’ve had a problem with damp, which was caused by repairs to the church in the last century. Cement render was used to patch up the walls, but it doesn’t let the building breathe and over the years damp has built up.

“Phase one of the restoration was replacing the guttering, and phase two was to replace all the plaster inside. The final phase will be remove the outside plaster and replace it with lime plaster.”

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Mr Gosling, whose wife, Judy, is one of the churchwardens, added: “It is a beautiful building and attracts a lot of visitors who want to see it kept open.”

The campaign to restore the church has garnered celebrity support from television presenter Griff Rhys-Jones and Bunny Campione from The Antiques Roadshow.

The money raised so far has been generated through subscriptions anddonations, as well as through events such as quiz nights and drinks parties.

Vicar the Rev Gay Ellis, who oversees worship in the Little Maplestead parish, said the church continues to attract a dedicated congregation.

She said: “Some Sundays we may only get around ten worshippers, but on special services the church is packed.

“We hold church bazaars and concerts here, and have five weddings planned for this year. In September, we are holding a flower festival as a thanksgiving for the renovation work that people have worked hard to make happen.”

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