A CHURCH in Gosport has been returned to its former glory after an extensive restoration, partly funded by parishioners.
St Mary’s Church, in Gosport High Street, has undergone five months of restoration work, after receiving more than £20,000 in donations from parishioners and the public.
The refurbishment, which began in mid-April, saw the church’s Victorian-era high windows fitted with metal mullions, which separate the panes of glass, after workers found that the original stone ones were crumbling.
That led to an additional month of work before the rest of the church could be refitted, including installing a life-size crucifix and a Sacred Heart of Jesus statue at the altar.
The total cost of the restoration work will eventually reach more than £100,000, with future work planned.
Father Peter Glas said he was touched by the donations from the community.
He said: ‘It’s amazing. This is not a rich parish, Gosport is not a rich, posh area.
‘The people’s response was phenomenal, I didn’t expect it. We had a budget and we said we’d be fine but because of the windows and things falling off the cost really rocketed.
‘An old lady turned up and said “I can’t help you more but I’ve got £10 out of my pension” – it was so moving.
‘She was so happy, she said she’d spent her whole life coming to this church after the war and would like to just contribute a bit.’
And caring church-goers have donated more than just money, as talented parishioners helped restore 14 paintings depicting the final hours of Jesus Christ.
Father Glas said that he is pleased the church’s new look will make it a more welcoming place.
He said: ‘The dampness was accumulating and the paint was peeled off and there were a lot of layers.
‘It’s one of the best and most thorough since the church was opened; they did something years ago but it wasn’t as good as this one.
‘This one will serve for years.’
But the work is still ongoing, with the church holding regular fundraising events in the church hall.
The church will hold a family quiz night in the hall on Saturday, November 17 at 6pm in an effort to raise more cash.