Conservation of historic church is completed

A PROJECT to conserve Old St Helen’s Church, parts of which date back to the time of the Battle of Hastings, is now complete.

One of the town’s oldest buildings, it was originally abandoned and dismantled in 1867 leaving only the tower and parts of the church walls.

Over the years the ruins were neglected and the church and churchyard were added to the English Heritage buildings at risk register.

The conservation project was funded largely by a £470,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

In April last year a community archaeological dig attracted more than 100 local volunteers to help with the excavation of the interior of the church.

This was followed by conservation work to stabilise the structures and install a new staircase within the tower providing access to the top of the tower.

A new entrance has also been created with improved paths to make the site fully accessible.

Councillor Emily Westley, lead member for environment and leisure at Hastings Borough Council, said: “I congratulate the Sussex Heritage Trust and all those involved on the completion of this project.

“The council will now take on the care of the church and churchyard and will work closely with the Friends of Old St Helen’s Church and Friary Gardeners to ensure its future.”

A ceremony took place on May 9 at the church marking the completion of the project.

Chris Gebbie, chairman of Sussex Heritage Trust, said: ”The project has been achieved with the commitment of many people and the display of many skills and the end result is one of which we can be justly proud.

“We thank the Heritage Lottery Fund and all the other funders for their contribution without which we would not have been able to achieve this outcome.”

Tomorrow (Saturday) the Friends of Old St Helen’s Church are holding an open day at the church, from 10am to 4pm, open to all. Admission is free.