Building Project at St George's

St  Georges Holcombe North Side Building Provect, providing 21st century facilities to our 19th century church.

More Details in June 2017 the Special Turret Times

and extracts  from  earlier TT's

1867 to 2017


2017 was a historic year in the life of St George’s Holcombe, being the 150th anniversary of the original building. The School opened in 1867 and the first service was held in April of that year. Last year’s Annual Report showed that the church had embarked upon a project known as HAP -  Holcombe Accessibility Project. The winter of 2016/2017 was spent pouring over plans and gaining planning permissions from the Local Authority and the Diocese – the latter known as a “faculty”. It is a daunting matter to commit the church to such a huge expenditure and the story of 2017 is that twice it seemed we received reassurance that this was indeed the path the Lord wanted us to take. In 2016 we received news that the late Harold Hayden had left the church 20% of his residual estate but this was news received informally. However, the amount we seemed to be in line for was the same amount as the provisional costings. The congregation had already responded generously with several gifts of over £1,000 and with Gift Aid and a £5,000 grant from Devon County Council via Councillor John Clatworthy, the HAP fund already stood at approx. £35,000.  Armed with this knowledge the HAP group launched a further consultation and upgraded the project to include a larger vestry and a store room, along with a new door into the church. Without this extra money with project would have been more limited and the new vicar’s vestry would be where the storeroom now is, essentially a cupboard! A year later, in the early summer of 2017, the new costings with contingency came to £120,000 and within a few weeks we received official confirmation of the legacy, with the news that it would be £120,000. Twice the promise of the income matched the planned expenditure. In fact when the funds came, the sum was even higher, as shown in the accounts.

The builders awarded the contract were Arque Construction, chosen not only on value for money but also for experience with working with similar buildings and managing complex projects. The architect was Mark Ledgard of Savills architectural practice in Exeter. Mark is the architect who conducts are quinquennial inspections and thus knew the church already. In the light of the project the Quinquennial due in 2017 was postponed and will take place in 2018.

As the project progressed, other challenges came to light and so the cushion of the extra funds has been very welcome. First of all, we had to cope with sewage backing up through the manhole cover on the forecourt; then the heavier duty wiring required by the faculty threw up a whole range of practical problems as well as incurring extra costs; challenges still remain around the loading of the electrical supply coming into the building; and the front roof over the new foyer proved to be in far worse condition than anticipated. This will need to be attended to in the near future. Lastly, and anticipating 2018, a “sink hole”, dubbed “St George’s Well” opened up on the forecourt adjacent to the arch in the stonework, and initial estimates indicate this will cost just under £2,000 to cap.

Speaking as the “vicar”, I am very glad that we planned this project before we knew we had the funds, as we identified a need and explored in faith how to solve it. Obviously the funds would have come anyway, but we would then be working out how to spend money, rather than looking first of all at what we should be doing.

The Church Council was very keen that all gifts should be equally appreciated, and the fact that money had already been generously given shows that there was a commitment across the church to the project. Members of the Council again showed their own commitment just before the project commenced. There was a deadline at the end of the summer by which the contract with the builders needed to be signed, but the legacy had not yet been received. £80,000 was pledged by different members of the DCC as loans to cover the gap, thus enabling the contract to be signed with confidence. In the event, although one loan was taken up to ensure no cash flow crisis, this plan was not needed as the money came through and the loan was returned.

During the summer the old vestries were cleared – no mean feat. Many items were disposed of – for instance two carrier bags of candle stubs! Others such as the linen press and the clock were sold via Bearnes auctioneers. Our grateful thanks to the Palmer family of the Framing Lot for helping to dismantle the former and conveying it to Exeter. Other items such as the sideboard and the chapel chairs were sold on Gumtree. Items were boxed up and taken for storage by different members of the congregation and special thanks goes to Doris Moran for the use of her garage which swallowed a lot! Thank you to everyone who assisted with all of this.

Plans were laid as to what would be needed when the church was not in use and when we would be worshipping at the Village Hall. Our thanks to the Hall Committee for allowing us to store items such as the hymns books and the keyboard there and also to the Castle Inn for allowing the contractors to park their vans in their car park.

A memorable occasion was the first Sunday in October, when we celebrated Harvest Festival and our last Sunday morning in church until the end of the project. Following a poor attendance at previous Harvest Lunches, we served bacon butties beforehand which was much appreciated (thank you to the Burdens for the practicalities of this!). After the service went into work party mode, clearing out the last items and very memorably cladding the organ. There are photos of this available. (there had been some apprehension about the possibility of the organ suffering from dust but we are pleased to report that it has come through unscathed.) Due to having to remove organ pipes and store them in the church the decision was reluctantly taken at the last minute to keep the church locked until such time as all was reinstated. (We are pleased to report that it is now open again during the day and we continue be so grateful to Fred and Carole Comber who do most of the work with regards to this.)

St George’s became a pilgrim people and moved up to the Village Hall. Numbers held up for the main services and special thanks are due to all who worked hard in storing and transporting all the items needed, and in setting the Hall up, especially our Church Warden Mr Bill Baker, Ann Say and Barbara Rains.


The Remembrance Service was held in the Hall, but it was decided to postpone, and then to cancel the annual service of Remembering and Hope. (Those who would normally be invited to this would be invited to the consecration of the extension of the Garden of Remembrance.)


The Church Council took the pragmatic decision to suspend the monthly 4th Sunday 8.00 BCP Communion service for the duration.


Numbers over Christmas were generally equivalent to last year, with the exception of Christingle and the Crib Service which were notably lower- perhaps the Hall was not seen as being the same by those who would normally come.

It was decided to experiment with different timings on Christmas Eve, with the Christmas Communion being held at 6 pm, enabling refreshments after the crib service and before the Communion Service. The Christmas Morning Service was an informal Church Family Gathering. There was a Communion service available in the parish church.


By the end of the year, it was clear that we were going to be delighted with the result. Anticipating the report for 2018 we have been thrilled that a mobility scooter has driven through the new gate and parked on the forecourt, and that a wheelchair user has been able to enter the church from the foyer and find a convenient space to sit by the shorter pew by the font.


All the project group worked hard on this, including Brian K Pearce, Mike Kinsey, Bill Baker and also Steve Pocock advising on various Health and Safety issues.

However, we want to express our heartfelt thanks to Mike Burden, the project leader. Mike has spent hours and hours overseeing the project, often being on site every day, troubleshooting and planning, and without his hard work and commitment we could not have embarked on HAP in the first place, yet alone brought it to fruition.

If anyone would like to suggest or undertake a fund-raising project, please contact the “vicar”, Chris Curd,

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