Where would we be without them?

Whether you are a church-goer or not, these lovely and historic buildings are a key part of our village communities.

The church of St Mary the Virgin, Clapham is a twelfth-century flint-built church, set in woodland.  It contains some fine memorial brasses and tablets to the Shelley family (ancestors of the poet), the gravestone of a medieval priest (possibly its first rector), and a set of decorative wall tiles of the four archangels by William Morris.

The church of St John the Divine, Patching, is also 12th-century in origin.  It has a medieval font, an uniquely carved wooden pulpit with panels from the 15th century, a fine early 20th-century vestry screen and exceptionally attractive stained glass windows.

Their congregations are now too small to cover the full cost of maintenance and repairs.  So if we want the church buildings to be looked after, we all need to do our bit.

Your subscription will help to fund the repairs and maintenance, large and small, which are required to keep the two churches in good order.

How do the Friends raise other monies?

The Friends Committee organises various fund-raising events, which also provide enjoyment and entertainment for everyone in the villages.  These include:

   dinners and suppers in the Village Hall, the Fox PH etc

   traditional Summer Fêtes and garden parties

   one-off events in the course of the year, such as presentations, concerts, shows, sales, quizzes and carol services.

   'Leave a Legacy' campaign; encouraging members to consider leaving a bequest in their will

  sales of 'merchandise' - DVDs (of local concerts & shows); music CDs, books, leaflets, Christmas cards and notelets, etc.


What exactly do the 'Friends' Do?

The Friends of Clapham and Patching Churches (or the 'Friends')
is a registered charity, and was set up in 1996. According to its Constitution, the charity's objective is:

". . . to beautify and assist in the maintenance of the fabric of the Parish Churches of St. Mary the Virgin, Clapham and St. John the Divine, Patching, and to preserve and protect them as places of Christian worship".

The organisation was the brainchild of Patching resident and churchwarden Sir Richard Best (see link panel below), who responded to the appeal from the Parochial Church Council to help tackle the Church of England's failing financial ability to support the churches and maintain their buildings' fabric.

His response was to propose 'The Friends' charity as a fund-raising organisation, to assist the PCC in safe-guarding the buildings. Membership was encouraged with annual subscription and donation by means of community events, etc.

A committee of around a dozen villagers, half from Clapham,
half from Patching was set up and gained the patrons Major General Sir Philip Ward and Fitzroy Somerset as the charity's 'figureheads'. Successive incumbent priests of the parish were included as honorary committee members. This committee meets regularly to discuss finance, work required, how we can help, and to arrange events to raise money.

In addition to fund-raising, the new committee and the enthusiastic members started to tackle matters directly, forming churchyard 'tidy' workforces, cleaning eaves gutters cleaning, removing ivy and brambles, lopping trees, etc., and cleaning the churches internally.





In this way, a good deal of work on the two churches has already been funded by the Friends, for example:

   A motor mower has been bought for Patching churchyard.

   Mains water has been piped to Clapham churchyard to be used for flower-arranging, cleaning etc - previously, water had to be carried up the lane by hand.

   The Patching churchyard wall and some exterior stonework have been repaired; the drains have been professionally cleared and gutters unblocked to deal with damp.

   The interiors of both churches have been redecorated.

   Damaged and failing stained glass windows have been repaired.

   Deteriorating roof tiling has been remedied, although extensive nail-rot at Patching Church has recently become a major (and expensive) priority for the future.

   Rot and beetle infestation and damage to the roof timbers at Patching Church has been investigated and deemed to be historic, ie not on-going.

To view a complete schedule of the work done to date and the monies expended, click the panel above, right.

Caring for our two lovely 12th century Downland churches


St. Mary the Virgin, Clapham

St. John the Divine, Patching

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The Friends of Clapham & Patching Churches - Reg. Charity No. 1059567 Website designed by Tony Crowther of ARC Design  - Tel:  01903 871238