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Stafford's historic churches need help to stay open

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: March 23, 2014

By Alison Thomas

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STAFFORD’S two historic town centre churches are appealing for volunteers to help keep them open to local visitors and tourists during the week.

St Mary’s and St Chad’s churches attract a stream of visitors, and they are seeking extra help to maintain and extend their opening hours in response to the growing demand.

“We have two architectural gems in the town centre that we know are really valued as spaces for quiet prayer and contemplation,” said Father John Davis, associate priest at St Mary’s.

“They are also of great historic interest to visitors to the town and real tourist attractions.

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“It would be a great shame if visitors miss the chance to see inside because we don’t have enough volunteers to keep the doors open.”

St Mary’s, a Grade I listed building, dates back to the 12th century, though there has been a church on the site for more than 1,000 years.

Its memorial to Izaak Walton is a popular tourist attraction, particularly with American visitors.

And its 11th century font, featuring sculptures of lions and monkeys, is thought to be the only one of its kind in the country.

Last year, the church had more than 20,000 visitors - including 6,000 at its popular Christmas Tree Festival

Meanwhile St Chad’s Church, in Greengate Street, is said to be the oldest building in Stafford and one of the finest examples of Norman architecture in the country.

“Both churches really are at the heart of the town in all senses, and if we can find a few more people to spare an hour or so a week as stewards to join our existing team of volunteers it will make a big difference,” Father Davis added.

He said the volunteer posts would suit anyone with an interest in the churches or in local history generally, and basic training would be given.

Anyone interested can contact the parish office on 01785 258511 or email parishoffice@stmarysstafford.org.uk

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