Major grant for Finchley’s oldest building

St Mary-at-Finchley will be undertaking a major programme of work to repair, restore and revitalise the listed church.

St Mary-at-Finchley
St Mary-at-Finchley

St Mary-at-Finchley has been awarded a £250,000 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund revitalise and improve access to the Finchley church

The project will transform access to St Mary’s heritage and environment by making it available locally, nationally and internationally.

St Mary-at- Finchley is the oldest building in Finchley. Some people believe that this was a sacred site in Saxon times. Certainly a church was in existence by the 13th century, when it was known as “The Church of Our Ladye at Fynchesley”.

St Mary’s will be working in partnership with the Barnet Council and neighbour Barnet Mencap to revitalise Grade II* St Mary’s, the heart of Finchley Church End Conservation Area, to maximise use of the site and improve physical, cultural and digital access for the community.

The project will involve the repair and restoration of the leaking roof of the Grade II* listed church and conservation work on seven Grade II listed monuments. A community garden will be created in front of the church as a place of peace and refuge. The garden will be used by Barnet Mencap for horticultural learning and social groups. It will help to develop easy-to-read printed and audio heritage guides.

Also planned are the installation of waymarking and interpretation of a historic footpath that will connect seven local schools and link St Mary’s to the Capital Ring and Dollis Valley paths to form a 5-mile circular route.

The project will digitalise churchyard and burial information to create an interactive map and photographs to give world-wide access to history enthusiasts.

As a final part of the project, heritage literature and images from the 13th century onwards will be republished to allow St Mary’s to share its fascinating history so it is accessible locally, nationally and internationally.

Subject to raising the further funds needed and recruiting enough volunteers, the completion date for the project will be September 2025.

The churchyard contains seven Grade II listed tombs and monuments, including an obelisk monument to Major John Cartwright (“Father of Reform”) and a Georgian sundial which features in a 1793 watercolour of St Mary’s by JMW Turner.

The project will cost a total of £930,320 with St Mary’s contributing £289,000, and the London Borough of Barnet contributing a further £145,250.

The church will be fundraising for the remaining funds.

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