MP visits Warminghurst Church's Christmas Tree Festival
Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert visited the Christmas Tree Festival in the hamlet of Warminghurst, between Ashington and Thakeham, on Saturday morning (14 December).
The Festival is held at the 13th Century Warminghurst Church which is featured in Simon Jenkins' "England's Thousand Best Churches".
Mr Herbert met Rachel Webster who is the Church keyholder and Chairman of the Friends of Warminghurst Church. Rachel told the MP about the significance of the Festival and the remarkable history of the Church.
Its walls include memorials to the Shelley and Butler families. James Butler bought Warminghurst Park from the Quaker, William Penn, who it is said wrote the first draft of Pennsylvania's constitution at the now demolished Park.
The Church roof is in need of repair to prevent damage to the 12th century beams and the interior, so the Friends have launched the next stage of their Roof Repair Fund.
The Grade 1 listed building, one of just 38 in the Horsham District, is now supported by the Churches Conservation Trust. But the Trust cannot fund all the repair work and maintenance needed, estimated to be £100,000. The Friends of Warminghurst Church, who are all volunteers, raise money and awareness through events.
Warminghurst Church was retired from holding regular worship in 1979, but its' Christmas Tree Festival and other events through the year keep it alive.
The Christmas trees were sponsored by Tooveys Auctioneers and Valuers, Roadmark Travel, and Big Plant Nursery and were dressed by local businesses, organisations and schools. The Friends raised funds by selling refreshments, crafts, tombola and raffle tickets.
Rachel Webster said: "We were delighted to welcome Nick Herbert to the Christmas Tree Festival at Warminghurst Church, and we were very excited by his interest and enthusiasm.
"The Friends of Warminghurst Church face a huge challenge in having to raise £100,000 for a new roof. Nick Herbert's support is hugely appreciated with the launching of the next phase of fundraising."
Nick Herbert said: "Warminhghurst is a lovely church with a remarkable history. It is also in a stunning position, with unbroken views towards Chanctonbury Ring on the South Downs. I was delighted to visit the Christmas Tree Festival and to support this gem in the heritage of West Sussex."
1. To learn more about the Friends of Warminghurst Church, or to enquire about using the Church, please contact the Chairman, Rachel Webster, on 01903 891312 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. New Friends of Warminghurst Church are welcomed and can become members from just £5 per annum.