THREE years ago worshippers at Chideock’s Church of Our Lady & St Ignatius were faced with a leaking roof washing plaster onto the altar.
Undaunted by the enormity of the problem they decided to not only fix it – but to convert the 1960s Mansard roof back to the original glory of the Victorian domed roof.
To do so they needed to raise £95,000.
Now their hard work and enthusiasm has paid off, the money and the dome have been raised and the Bishop of Plymouth is celebrating with a special mass at the Church on July 3 at 6pm.
The following day there’s a more secular celebration with an open afternoon at the church from 2pm to 5pm with tea and cakes, when there will be photographs and displays of the progress of the work and the architect will be giving a talk at 3.30pm.
The original church was designed and built by Thomas Weld with Italian and Byzantine influences and dedicated in 1874.
The dome was replaced in 1961 with a modern Mansard roof.
It was the dome’s 60s replacement that had started to let in water and leak to such an extent that plaster was coming off and floating down into the church’s interior.
Church trustee and descendant of Thomas Weld, Gabby Martelli, said: “So our Friends committee decided, rather than patching it up yet again, what about putting back a replica of the original dome?
“I rather gulped because I am a trustee of the church but there was a lot of enthusiasm and we got up this campaign.
“We created a dome appeal committee chaired by our local parish priest father Richard Meyer and we had a lot of help from Prof Denys Brunsden who was also on the committee.”
The committee sent out letters and had big donations from several individuals and also from organisations, especially Dorset Historic Churches Trust.
The plain interior is also being repainted with stars on a pale blue background.
Mrs Martelli said along with the successful appeal and the joy of having the dome back to its original glory the project had a beneficial effect on the whole village. She said: “We have had terrific support from Chideock and people have said how much they want to support the Catholic as well as the Anglican church.
“We try to support the Anglican church and they have supported us and that has definitely made an impression on the village, which is very nice.”
“And it has put us on the map and made us better known.”