Amazing people helped to save iconic Clitheroe landmark

Clitheroe Parish Church.'Photo Ben Parsons
Clitheroe Parish Church.'Photo Ben Parsons

It has never been more apparent than during a sun-drenched weekend we all recently enjoyed that it would be hard to find anywhere better to live than the Ribble Valley.

And, as I sat in my garden enjoying the view, it really hit me how, apart from the beautiful countryside that surrounds us, it is the landmark buildings and the commitment of those people who help to maintain them that makes where we live so special.

The view from my garden looks out on to Clitheroe Castle and Clitheroe Parish Church – two impressive landmarks which help make the town what it is.

But with the sun beaming down on the renovated spire of St Mary Magdalene lighting up its guilded weather vein it struck me just how iconic this building is and how important it is to the town’s vista.

Even as night time fell, while the floodlt castle captured my attention, it was the church spire and its commanding presence that continued to catch my eye. Standing proudly on its limestone crag in the middle of Clitheroe, this inspiring building is only still here thanks to the dedication of its clergy and parishioners.

A huge project to repair and rebuild the church spire began in 2009 after the detection of corroding and expanding iron “dog cramps” set within the masonry of the spire walls, which caused the stones to crack and, in some cases, fall off the spire!

Dismantling of the spire commenced in March 2012 and the rebuild was completed just before Christmas 2012.

Plans are now afoot to raise another £500,000 to £1m. to secure the church’s place in the lives of future generations by extending the church or reorganising the current space. Once again, parishioners will be called upon to help raise funds and, if they respond like they did to the church’s spire appeal, St Mary’s will once again benefit from being at the centre of such a giving community.

For although it is an inspiring piece of architecture, it is made more inspiring by those people who help to secure its future.

While researching my article about development plans for the church, I chatted to its vicar, the Rev. Andy Froud, who agreed support from residents in helping to sustain the church’s future in the community has been immense.

We went on to ponder whether, like Clitheroe Castle, the church should be floodlight at night. What do readers think?