Putting heart into heritage at Algarkirk

St Peter and St Paul Algarkirk Churchyard survey day'Eric Francis on survey  offseting base lines ANL-150820-153938001
St Peter and St Paul Algarkirk Churchyard survey day'Eric Francis on survey offseting base lines ANL-150820-153938001

Putting St Peter and St Paul’s Church at the heart of the village of Algarkirk has much wider ramifications.

Work to turn the Grade 1 listed building into a community centre as well as a place of worship means it has also become the focus for learning heritage skills that can be transferred to other ancient buildings.

St Peter and St Paul Algarkirk Churchyard survey day'Colin Scrupps  mapping position of stones ANL-150820-154552001

St Peter and St Paul Algarkirk Churchyard survey day'Colin Scrupps mapping position of stones ANL-150820-154552001

The grade 1 listed church has some special features, such as beautiful stained glass windows and internal decoration.

However, it faced closure in 2010 until Algarkirk Major Project Group (AMPG) was formed with the aim of repairing and preserving the structure. At the same time it was turned it into a centre where the heritage skills needed to protect the site could be shared with other people with an interest in ancient churches and buildings.

Churchwarden Cheryllyn Humphreys, who is also part of AMPG, explained: “We have basically got a church which is architecturally one of the most important in Britain, but nowadays church attendance has diminished so we are trying to create a community centre so the church is really at the heart of the village in every sense. As we examine windows and stonework we have a number of training days paid for by the Heritage Lottery, not just for people who come to church, but for others who can undertake training, all completely free, and take it back to their own churches, so it’s passing on good practice.”

The latest of these training days was a Churchyard Survey Day at which people learned surveying and recording skills.

St Peter and St Paul Algarkirk Churchyard survey day'Colin Scrupps and John Craggs mapping position of stones ANL-150820-154455001

St Peter and St Paul Algarkirk Churchyard survey day'Colin Scrupps and John Craggs mapping position of stones ANL-150820-154455001

As well as being useful for preserving churchyards, Cheryllyn pointed out that the skills learned could be useful for people interested in genealogy and local history.

She said: “People don’t usually think of churchyards as a source of local history, but you can track the fall and rise of a particular family and see how at one point there was great wealth because the gravestones are elaborate. You can also look at the condition of the gravestones and see what’s damaging them and see what steps you can take to protect them.”

More Heritage Lincolnshire courses are being held on September 9 (10am to 3pm) an Introduction to lime mortars; September 15 (10am to 4pm) Looking after historic paint finishes; September 26 (10am to 3pm) Looking after stained glass; and October 10 (10am to 4pm) Introduction to stone masonry (carving).

To book a place on a free course email heritageskillscentre@lincolnshire.gov.uk with details of the courses you would like to attend and your name, phone number, home postcode and date of birth. Courses have limited capacity so act quickly.