St Gregory’s Restoration Project
St Gregory’s Church, Rendlesham, is thought to have been built in the 14th century on the site of an Anglo Saxon pagan temple. The Venerable Bede writes at length of Rendlesham as the site of King Redwald’s Royal palace and estate. Redwald was baptised and converted to Christianity in this place by Augustine who was sent by Pope Gregory to convert pagans in the 6th Century.
The dedication of St Gregory is unusual and is linked with early Christianity.The church overlooks the Deben valley and would have been an important vantage point to see ships navigating the river which was in those days tidal and thus vastly wider than the trickle that it is today. It is thought that Redwald’s body was shipped from Rendlesham to Sutton Hoo where he was buried.
Today the church is in dire need of restoration; no material work has been carried out for a generation. Unlike some other parishes, Rendlesham has no endowments and relies solely on fund raising to keep the fabric from deteriorating. The time has come when an appeal has to be launched in order to save this historic and beautiful building where Christians have worshipped since the 14th Century.The rendered outside walls have blistered causing water ingress; the tower has several points of severe deterioration and the roof is in need of attention, possible replacement. Internally redecoration is necessary and glass repaired in some windows. These works will be carried out with specialist materials all of which add to the cost but ensures the work will be done in sympathy with this historic site.
In 2016 there will be a reduction of clergy within the Diocese. This will have an effect on the usage of church buildings. We, at Rendlesham, are in a fortunate position to have the archaeology project as a point of interest.Restoration including the installation of facilities in the vestry area will allow St Gregory’s to be available for lectures, exhibitions and other community and cultural programmes.The total estimate for this work is circa £150,000 which with the help of grants and fund raising events we hope to achieve by the middle/end of 2015. Although this does not seem a great deal of money compared to some projects, for St Gregory’s, Rendlesham, and its immediate supporters within the Parish it is an undertaking of considerable enormity.The Rendlesham Parochial Church Council would like to thank you for attending this evening and very much hopes that you find Rendlesham Rediscovered as interesting as we do. The journey has not yet been completed.
Caroline Bunbury – Co-ordinator of the Restoration Project