In October 2003 an inaugural meeting was held and the Friends of St. Peter’s Hever was set up. Hever is a very special village – in some ways we are in a time warp – definitely affected by the outside world but also enjoying the peace and beauty of a past age. A description of Hever in the 1520’s paints a picture of the village that is very similar to its present image.
We have a beautiful historic castle with its wonderful gardens, two real country pubs, a thriving village school and a magnificent ancient church. St Peter’s Church, Hever, is nearly 900 years old and is in good condition – but this has to be maintained and, as with all ancient listed buildings, maintenance is expensive. Even the smallest building work that is done on or in the church has to be carried out to the highest standard.
Can you imagine Hever with a crumbling church? What a tragedy that would be.
The church, as a religious centre, is the responsibility of the churchgoers and one that they readily accept and thus far have fulfilled. But help is needed with the conservation of the church. The Friends paid for the repair of the clock which had been a problem for some years and the chimes were reinstated. They also paid for the repair on some medieval stained glass (the oldest glass in the church). The screen between the vestry and the main body of the church has been refurbished and a window installed the Bell Tower, helping the insulation of the church and aiding the bell ringers to be part of services. Two major paintings – ‘Christ before Caiaphas’ by Reuben Sayers and ‘Angel of the Resurrection’ attributed to the school of Tintoretto were cleaned and conserved, restoring them to their former glory and adding considerably to the magnificence of the Chancel and North Aisle.
The most recent project was contributing to the replacement of the outdated and failing audio system in the church, thus enabling the congregation and visitors alike to have an enhanced and more enjoyable listening experience. The carpets, curtains and choir stall kneelers have all been recently replaced or refurbished, and the altar kneeler is also to be repaired.
The next project is to contribute to a major update of the heating system, which will involve a new boiler, additional radiators and a general overhaul of the system which will enable the church to be a more comfortable and welcoming environment for the congregation and many overseas visitors who enjoy the peace of this building.
The churchgoers will continue to raise as much money as they can – but don’t all of us who live in the village or use the church for special occasions have a responsibility to make sure the church continues as a historical centre of the village whether or not we are churchgoers?
If you wish to find out more about the work of The Friends, or become a Member, please contact the Secretary, Sue Hart.