HOD raised over £250!

Every little helps the Friends of Friendless Churches to complete its St Denis’ project


St Denis' church, East-Hatley was open over the weekend on 13th to 15th September 2019 for the Heritage Open Days festival. Over 100 people came to look round and generously donated £252.45 to the Friends of Friendless Churches, which owns the building to help in its endeavours to complete the restoration of the church.

Actually, it was £267.45 – over three gloriously sunny days in mid-September as 103 people (some on bikes, some with children and two with their very well behaved dogs) came to look inside St Denis’ church in East Hatley, which was open as part of the 2019 Heritage Open Days festival.

St Denis' church, East-Hatley was open over the weekend on 13th to 15th September 2019 for the Heritage Open Days festival. Over 100 people came to look round and generously donated £252.45 to the Friends of Friendless Churches, which owns the building to help in its endeavours to complete the restoration of the church.

St Denis’ church was open over the weekend of 13th to 15th September for the 2019 Heritage Open Days festival.

Visitors came from Arrington, Bedford, Biggleswade, California (visiting parents in Gamlingay), Cambridge, Cockayne Hatley, Elsworth, Gamlingay, Gransdens, Hardwick, Hilton, Huntingdon, Potton, St Albans, St Neots, Sandy, Southoe and, of course, Hatley.

Interestingly, most visitors were from Gamlingay – including Cliff Dixon who commented: ‘Nice to come back after 64 years.  I was the last person to be christened here!’  [St Denis’ closed in 1959.]

While there had been no alterations to the building since last year when the Friends of Friendless Churches, which owns St Denis‘, put new windows in the nave and a floor in the nave and chancel, some tidying up helped to highlight this is a medieval church from around 1217, with restoration work by Sir George Downing in the 1660s followed by William Butterfield’s changes in 1874 and, of course, the rescuing of the building by South Cambs District Council between 2003 and 2006.

Last year when St Denis’ was open for HOD, ‘only’ £70 was raised for the Friends of Friendless Churches – we aimed for £100 this year, so to more than double that was very pleasing.  The Friends is working hard on its plans to complete the restoration of the interior of St Denis’ – hopefully there will be more news on this next year.

Over 1,000 years timeline from 900 to 2000 of events events which have helped to shape East Hatley. It's on display in St Denis' church – 14-9-19.

A timeline of events which have helped to shape East Hatley.

Jenny Ollerenshaw with the St Denis' church visitors' book she made – 10th September 2019. Jenny lives in East Hatley and does bookbinding as a hobby.

Jenny Ollerenshaw with the St Denis’ church visitors’ book she made.

This year, in addition to leaflets about the FoFC and quite a lot of other relevant material, we had a brand new visitors’ book for people to sign – so carefully crafted by Jenny Ollerenshaw, who lives in East Hatley and does bookbinding ‘as a hobby’.

Joyce Denby, another East Hatley resident, having spent many hours since last winter researching the families who over the last 1,000 years have owned land in East Hatley and Hatley St George, produced a ‘book’ detailing who they were.  A spin-off, on display in St Denis’, was a 1,000 year timeline of events which have helped to shape East Hatley.

Joyce and husband Peter Mann were on hand during the weekend to tell visitors something of St Denis’ history – so busy were they there was no time to go down to Hatley St George church where Penny Hewlett had opened up for just as many people to pop in and enjoy the special atmosphere the church enjoys.

A big thank you to Margot Eagle, Jo and Peter Hayward, Sarah Brennan, John O’Sullivan and Sofie Hooper for welcoming visitors and serving light refreshments.

But… the St Denis’ event would never have happened without the energy and organising spirit of Nicola Jenkins – thank you Nicola.

Post created 16th September 2019 – updated 23rd September 2019.