We have launched our St. Mary’s 600 Appeal to raise £600,000 to preserve our church and the Bede House, and to celebrate the 600 years since the founding of the Bede House and Chichele College by Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury.
“In my 20 years working as a fundraiser I cannot remember a worse time to try to raise money than in the current financial landscape, and yet here we are beginning our St. Mary's 600 Appeal and doing so at a time when we are unable to have our planned Angel Festival or hold any concerts, coffee mornings, barn dances or quiz nights. However, it really may turn out to be the best of times as Covid-19 and lock downs make us realise what really is important to us and we learn about what we can actually do without. Where I live is important to me, and I am sure the same is true for you - this town, these buildings, Faith, community, friendships. Things I cannot do without include this church, our mini cathedral close that includes the Bede House and the Chantry Chapel. We are faced with the challenge of raising a substantial amount of money during the next 4-5 years to complete work both inside and out of our much loved church buildings.”
Sue Dennis, Chair of the Appeal
We are delighted to have as our Patrons, three supporters with a special link to Higham and the history of our three unique buildings, and of course to the Archbishop of Canterbury in the 15th century, Henry Chichele, who was founder of The Bede House, the Chantry Chapel, Chichele College and All Souls College, Oxford.
Our Appeal Patrons are:
The Lord-Lieutenant of Northamptonshire, James Saunders Watson Esq.
The Lord Bishop of Peterborough, The Right Reverend Donald Allister.
The Warden of All Souls College, Oxford, Professor Sir John Vickers
James Saunders Watson says:
“I am delighted to be invited to be a Patron of the St Mary’s 600 Appeal. The Appeal Committee have set themselves a herculean task of raising £600,000 to preserve the Church and Bede House. This project is not just focussing on restoring the fabric of the buildings but also making them fit for purpose for the 21st Century. The success of this campaign should ensure that the parish Church of St Mary’s and the Bede House remain at the heart of Higham Ferrers for a further 600 years.”
The Bishop of Peterborough says:
The Church of England’s Diocese of Peterborough covers all of Northamptonshire and Rutland as well as the city of Peterborough. It includes over 350 churches, 150 of them Grade-1 listed. Among those, St Mary’s Higham Ferrers, with the Bede House, stands out as an architectural and historical gem.
Pevsner’s architectural guide to Northamptonshire calls St Mary’s “very grand” and describes its “superb spire.” The reason that buildings of this age and complexity continue to stand is that they have been used and loved through the centuries. To keep them in place, we must keep them in use. This excellent programme of restoration and refurbishment aims to do exactly that. I gladly commend the appeal to you.
Professor John Vickers says:
As the head of the other Chichele College, which is younger than his foundation in Higham Ferrers by over ten years, I am delighted to offer my patronage and wholehearted support to the 600 Appeal,which aims to preserve and enhance the two surviving institutions in which Chichele had a hand, the Church and the Bede House. Times change. The Higham Ferrers community has other priorities now than the college of canons, clerics and choristers that Chichele planned in 1422. But he was always a pragmatist. He would have recognised that, in Higham Ferrers as in Oxford, ancient institutions and their buildings must always develop and adapt if they are to remain true to their essential purposes. That is why I commend this appeal to you and wish it all success in its anniversary year.
How will the money be used?
To repair crumbling stonework on the spire – this work has already begun
To enable the construction of a servery in the church
To refurbish the Bede House.
How can you help?
If you care about St Mary’s, whether because you worship with us, or were baptised or married in the church ─ or maybe simply love the architecture, heritage or history of our wonderful mini Cathedral close, you can help us in a number of ways:
Give a one-off donation with Gift Aid if possible
Set up a monthly donation
Organise a mini fundraising event for us (and a bigger one once our world opens up again).
How to donate
Donate via the BACS system (sort code 30-96-09; account number 84427260; account St Mary the Virgin PCC Higham 600 Appeal)
Cheques should be made payable to St Mary the Virgin PCC Higham 600 Appeal.