We chose to live in Clapham and Patching, and many visitors choose to come here, because we all value the character of the villages and our community. We may have varying reasons for being here, but we have a common desire to conserve and maintain what we have in this unique rural Downland setting.
A major part of the attraction of the villages is their vernacular buildings, especially our two 13th Century churches; and although we may not all be church-goers, we all recognise the churches as the very oldest and most precious buildings here - our greatest heritage.
We have to look after our properties. They all need maintenance, none more so than our churches, being so ancient. But the congregations are now too small to carry the costs involved and 'The Friends' exist to raise funds to assist them.
Joining us will help us to look after the churches so that they can continue as the focal point and heart of our villages. With your help, we can protect/maintain them for future generations.
But joining the Friends is not simply about safeguarding our churches; it is also about maintaining this community. With our busy lives, work pressure and family concerns, we meet up as villagers less often than in the past.
In years gone by, people lived and worked in and around the villages and met daily as a matter of course. They also met in 'The Institute' building in Clapham (before the Village Hall) for weekend dances, parties, weddings, teas, etc.
When we do meet today, we rekindle that same spirit of community, and so 'The Friends' hold events, fetes, quizzes, suppers - to raise funds and also just to enjoy our friendship and neighbourliness.
The Friends of Clapham and Patching Churches was formed as a Registered Charity in 1996 and since then we have raised over £75,000, over a third of which has been spent on window replacement, masonry rebuilding, damp proofing, redecoration, cleaning and maintenance. Further work is needed, some of which could be far more costly, such as roof and steeple repairs, which would require far more serious fund-raising than to date.
Our past efforts have been measured and conservative, but the next decade could bring new pressure for us to step up a gear! That's why we need you to take part - we need your financial and personal commitment. Why not apply for Membership? Find out more here.
To read more about our background and the founding of the charity under the instigation of Sir Richard Best, our first chairman, please click here.