Work is finally due to start this week that will save one of Northamptonshire’s most prized buildings from destruction.
The much-admired Grade II listed All Saints’ Church in Braunston was threatened with demolition as the building began to crumble.
Known fondly as “The Cathedral of the Canals”, the church has been a beacon for boaters for more than a century as well as giving the village its picture-postcard appeal.
But time had taken its toll. Matters came to a head when a piece of masonry crashed to the floor at the end of a Sunday service, just as the vicar was telling worshippers to “Go in Peace”.
The Friends of All Saints had already been formed to save the building. The falling masonry gave the appeal new impetus and around £100,000 has now been collected from local people, others who admire the building, trust funds and through numerous fundraising activities.
This was boosted by a major grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, bringing the total to the required £300,000.
So after more than three years of effort, the scaffolding is finally going up and the essential repairs can begin.
Stage One will take about six months and should see the roof repaired and the building made safe.
Other work will then be needed to bring the building back to its former Victorian splendour.
The start of the repair work coincides with a major new campaign to try to prevent a similar crisis arising in the future. Everyone who lives in the village is being individually contacted and invited to join in a big community effort to safeguard the building for the long term.
Villagers are being asked to commit just seven pence a day to keep their most famous building safe.
At the same time, the church is being opened up to a range of new activities which it is hoped will bring in many people who do not normally attend church services. An arts festival and concerts are among the events so far planned; others will follow.
A Braunston time-line has already been installed in the church, tracing the history of the village in parallel with world events over the past seven centuries.