Celebrating the handover of St Denis by SCDC to FoFC – photo gallery
Trustees of the Friends of Friendless Churches at the handover ceremony on 11th July 2017. L to R: Richard Halsey MBE (FoFC exec trustee), Rev'd Alex Barrow (FoFC exec trustee), Rev'd Philip Gray (FoFC exec trustee), County Councillor Sebastian Kindersley, Roger Evans (FoFC Chairman with the symbolic key), District Councillor Nick Wright and Peter Scott (FoFC Treasurer).
Click on the first photo – and GDPR
Click on the first photo to bring up the gallery – then use the arrows to scroll through the other photos. There's a caption under each photo.
Celebrating St Denis' church
There's much to celebrate about St Denis' church in East Hatley – first, and most importantly, it still exists as a building we can stand back to admire, walk around and (on occasion) go inside.
From 1959, when it was last used for worship, until 2002 it didn't look that way at all, but in the following decade much was done to turn a building in serious danger of collapse into a 'safe shell' (albeit without any windows and hardly any floor) – and then, hooray, hand it on to the Friends of Friendless Churches who would be 'willing to take the freehold of the Grade II* listed church of St Denis, East Hatley and safeguard it in perpetuity’.
Then in 2017, on a rather damp July evening, came the wonderful occasion when South Cambs District Council, owners of the building since 1985, handed over a ceremonial key to the Friends of Friendless Churches in front of over 50 local people and dignitaries (after the customary speeches and Champagne of course).
A year later, on a far sunnier evening, Rachel Morley, Director of the FoFC, hosted another party to show off the the first part of its restoration programme to bring St Denis' back to how William Butterfield left it after his restoration in 1874. Here's a copy of her talk, detailing some of the changes he made.
We also opened the church in mid-September in 2018 and 2019 as one of several hundred events around the country celebrating Heritage Open Days allowing visitors to look around properties perhaps not normally open to the public.
In addition to the first link (to our main St Denis' church page), we've included links to older articles detailing how the building went from a ruin its then owners (South Cambs District Council) wanted to demolish to its very bright future:
- St Denis’ East Hatley – 800 years old but no longer consecrated.
- Just how was St Denis’ saved? – by local determination… and being listed.
- It’s to be saved – the 2005 commitment by South Cambridgeshire District Council to restore not demolish St Denis' church.
- FoFC's acquisition – the Friends of Friendless Churches acquire St Denis’ church.
- The next chapter – the Friends of Friendless Churches' first planning application (in 2017) to kick-start their project of restoring the interior of St Denis'.
- Photo gallery – celebrating handing over St Denis’ church keys to the Friends of Friendless Churches by South Cambridgeshire District Council in July 2017... and other events.
- St Denis' in the news – press cuttings from our open days and evenings.
- Heritage Open Days festival 2019 – how it was for St Denis’ church.
- A little less of St Denis following the devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in 2019.
- Who was St Denis? – more than just a 3rd-century Christian martyr.
- St Denis – flyer about the church – July 2017.
Visiting St Denis'
The church is currently only open on request – contact Peter Mann; hopefully when all the restoration work has been completed, it can be kept open.
Photos by Peter Mann. Page created 15th January 2020; mini-update 8th October 2021.