Daventry’s church opens its doors

The volunteers at Holy Cross Church
The volunteers at Holy Cross Church

Daventry’s Holy Cross Church opened up to visitors for the first time.

The church will now be open from 10.30am to 4.30pm on Tuesdays and Fridays from now until the start of winter.

Churchwarden Peter Wagstaff said: “We just had a large building project at the church to repair the stonework outside and improve the waterproofing. That was done partly thanks to a grant from English Heritage.

“English Heritage take the view that people should be able to see the projects they’ve been involved in, but people could walk around the outside and only see part of it. So we’ve decided to open the building up twice a week during the warmer months, starting at the beginning of April.

“Holy Cross is a wonderful building. It is the only Georgian town church in the diocese. Work started in 1752 and was completed in 1754.

“People see the outside of the building and the stonework and think it’s going to be similar inside, but it’s not.”

The open days have stewards on hand to guide people around and answer questions about the church and its history, which stretches right back to Saxon times.

Angela Adams, one of the volunteers who has helped open up the church, said: “We are very keen for people who don’t worship regularly or at all at the church to come in and have a look.

“A lot of people were involved in raising the money for the recent project, and many were not ‘churchgoers’ but saw the building as important to the history of the town.

“The vicar, Canon Michael Webber, is very keen to open the church for the people that gave money, local people that might not come to the church for services. We also would welcome volunteer stewards who are not from the church.”

During the Middle Ages the church was part of the Priory of La Charite and St Augustine, but was closed in 1526 by Cardinal Wolsey after the canons refused to donate to his new college, now Christchurch Oxford. Much of the priory’s land was given to the college, hence why large areas around the town were owned by Christchurch up until recent decades.

The church opens to the public at 10.30am following the morning service. The twice weekly openings will continue until October time, when the cold weather unfortunately means it is unaffordable to heat the church for visitors.