Heritage grant for at risk St James

Publish Date : 26 Jan 2023
St James Photo Orig
St James Church has major structural issues, uncovered when work to fight borer infestation was undertaken. Photo courtesy Clevedon Parish: St James Church.

Advocates of preserving Ardmore’s historic St James Church and graveyard have received a $11,250 grant to prepare a conservation plan.

Franklin Local Board Chair Angela Fulljames says the money, an Auckland Council Regional Historic Heritage Grant, will give supporters of saving the church a fighting chance.

Sourcing funding for a conservation report was critical to locals keen on saving the Papakura-Clevedon Road church, its future in doubt because of borer and rot.

The Church Road site was donated around 1858 and St Peter’s opened in 1861. It burned down in 1892 and shortly after the Vestry accepted a £265 tender for a new church. St James opened a year later.

Franklin Ward Councillor Andy Baker says when the Sanctuary-St James concert series was launched in 2020, more frequent use led to the discovery of a bad borer problem, the Parish using generous donations from parishioners, locals and the board to fight the infestation and the damage it causes.

“That work revealed the church’s structural integrity had been compromised and St James has been closed ever since.”

Fulljames says conservation plan costs could be significant, and the issue is clouded because the church and land belonging to the Anglican Diocese. That means the Vestry can explore options around preserving the church, but any decisions rest with the Diocese.

“Descendants of the Bell family came to the board last year and outlined a case for preserving St James. There was even a suggestion funds from any sale of the nearby Ardmore Hall, which the board has endorsed, might be able to be used.

“The board has endorsed a sale recommendation with a provisio that the proceeds be used locally. Any sale is still a long way off, and it would be difficult to use funds from the sale of a council property to support another organisation – in this case the Anglican Church.

“But it’s great to see council funding for a conservation report. Without one, no one can know what might be involved, let alone the costs.”

Clevedon Parish Vicar, The Reverend Sarah Park, says the grant is welcome news. “It is a great start towards our fundraising for a conservation report. We are grateful and are in the process of applying to other heritage funding bodies. Our success with the council will likely help our case.”

Fulljames says the funding, coming out of community feedback around the Ardmore Hall and Bell Field sale process, is a good example of the council supporting a community-led celebration of heritage.

“That aligns with two Franklin Local Board Plan 2020 objectives, the first calling for our people to be enabled to engage with local history and share their culture, and the second supporting our people actively contributing to their communities.

The grant programme aims to encourage community involvement in the care of regional heritage sites and places.

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