DIVINE INSPIRATION: Revd Alison Wallbank pictured with Durham Diocese Parochial Church Council secretary Jennifer Ribbands
DIVINE INSPIRATION: Revd Alison Wallbank pictured with Durham Diocese Parochial Church Council secretary Jennifer Ribbands

A FUNDRAISING appeal has been launched to help save an upper dale church which is in desperate need of repair.

Reserves for maintenance work at Holy Trinity Church, in Eggleston, have run out but the weather continues to take its toll on the 19th century building.

Paint is peeling off and plaster is crumbling inside because of damp in the walls.

Urgent repair work is required to prevent any serious water damage which could spoil the interior of the church.

A roof appeal fund has been launched to help raise £22,000. This will cover the cost of repairing the roof, securing the inner walls damaged due to water ingress and replacing the cast iron gutters.

Revd Alison Wallbank said: “If we could start the work next spring, that would be good. We are going to have to bear another winter and that will be just about bearable. The ‘beast from the east’ has made us more aware of how vulnerable the building is.

“We don’t earn that much money. Weddings, baptisms and funerals are not how we get our income. We need people to come and support us regularly.”

Over the past five years, the church has played host to 15 baptisms, five weddings and 31 funerals. During this time more than £27,000 has been spent on improvements and maintenance. This has included a new state-of-the-art heating system, new LED lighting, the floor has been levelled and carpeted and protection has been added to the stained glass windows. The tower has also been repointed, the bell reset and anti-bird measures have been installed in the tower to prevent it from filling with nests.

Church warden Wendy Greenfield said: “Please don’t think we have not been looking after the church. We have had pointing done to alleviate the worst but it needs that next step now.

“We now need help because we have exhausted our maintenance money which people have given us in wills and donations.”

The church was built by Benjamin Hepworth, of Barnard Castle, in 1860 at a cost of £1,450 plus £225 to build the surrounding wall. It opened in 1869 to replace the church in Eggleston Hall’s grounds.

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Weekly services take place on a Sunday morning as well as family services which are held four times a year. The church currently has 12 regular worshippers.

Revd Wallbank said: “People want a church but they perhaps have no concept of how much it costs to run. £250 a week, just to be open, is phenomenal. Then there is insurance, bills and we have to pay so much to Durham Diocese.

“We will be applying for grants but you have to raise so much yourself first.”

The church is being opened to the public everyday from 10am-4pm. This is to meet requirements for funding applications.

A further £35,000 will be sought at a later date to pay for repointing and window repairs.

Revd Wallbank added: “The grassroots church is on its own. The church commissioners in London hold the purse strings. They train all the vicars and pay the salaries and pensions of all the clergy. If they invested all of their money in all the churches we would have no priests.

“We feel that the shops have gone and the post office so what’s left? What sort of legacy are we going to leave if we just turn our backs? We have got to do this.

“We could have closed it but we think it is worth the fight. It is for the people and we are doing this as a legacy for the next generation.”

To donate, text HTEG17 and the amount to 70070.

Donations can also be sent to 2 The Drive, Eggleston, DL12 0AG or by calling 01833 650697.