A ringing celebration

PUBLISHED: 15:41 19 February 2009 | UPDATED: 21:41 31 May 2010

A PEAL of bells will be heard ringing out across Stansted Mountfitchet when a historic church joins in a birthday celebration. The Churches Conservation Trust turns 40 this year and St Mary s Church on Church Road - which has benefitted from the trust s w

A PEAL of bells will be heard ringing out across Stansted Mountfitchet when a historic church joins in a birthday celebration.

The Churches Conservation Trust turns 40 this year and St Mary's Church on Church Road - which has benefitted from the trust's work - will mark the occasion on Saturday February 21.

Church keyholder, Audrey Rodgers, said: "There are two very big churches in Stansted and there is no way that the parish could pay for the upkeep of both of them. The conservation of the church is now entirely in the hands of the trust."

The original parish church, St Mary's, which is situated outside the village and was falling into disrepair, lost its role to St John the Evangelist when it was built in 1889. The maintenance of St Mary's was taken on by the trust in 1991.

"This is a lovely old church and without the work of the trust it could disappear, along with many others like it," said Ms Rodgers. "We will be joining in the trust's birthday celebrations with a quarter peal followed by tea and cakes in the church - and we would welcome anyone who would like to come along."

The bells of more than 70 churches nationwide will be heard at 2pm to officially mark the birthday of the charity that cares for England's finest historic churches no longer required for regular worship.

Regional manager for the trust, Rebecca Rees, said: "Our churches are centuries old, each is unique and each has its own significance both historically and architecturally. If cared for correctly they can also provide contemporary spaces for everyone to enjoy while also preserving and celebrating these great buildings for future generations. The charity needs your support and I hope as many people as possible will come."

St Mary's dates from Saxon times, but has distinctive Norman architecture and was rebuilt in 1887. The church has two 17th century effigies and a wall painting which dates from the 14th century.

The church is open on the first Sunday of every month between May and September. On Saturday people are invited to the church between 2pm and 5pm.

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