BE THOU my strong tower – these were the lyrics of a hymn sung at the top of a church’s bell-tower to mark an important milestone in its restoration.
The topping out ceremony of the Holy Trinity Church, in West Street, Fareham, took place yesterday with a small group of assembled guests, including the Bishop of Portsmouth, who all climbed the nine flights of scaffolding to stand at the top of the Grade-II* Gothic town church tower.
Prayers were offered, hymns sung and thanks given to all who had made the restoration, worth £500,000, a reality.
The Rev Sally Davenport said: ‘The restoration came about because we realised we had significant damage to the tower and we were facing closure.
‘But thanks to a huge sum of money we were able to get going with the fundraising.
‘Many people in the community have been involved and we’re delighted that this is such a significant moment of celebration and a time for thanksgiving to all those who have worked hard.’
Bishop of Portsmouth the Rt Rev Christopher Foster said: ‘It’s hugely impressive.’
The church launched its High Time Appeal in May 2014 and was given a £214,000 boost from the Heritage Lottery Fund in March.
The work has taken 24 weeks so far and the scaffolding is due to come down within the next few weeks, with the clock due back from repair on Monday.
The work is scheduled to finish in November, and although it may not be completed for Remembrance Day, plans are in place to ring the bell manually.