Councillors have declared that the authority owes St Botolph’s Church ‘so much’ after representatives confirmed to them that £2.1m proposals to repair and refurbish the church are only £365k off the total needed.
Team Rector Alyson Buxton gave a presentation to the Boston Town Area Committee where she updated councillors on the Passion for People Scheme.
Plans include repairing the West Face of the tower, the last side of the tower to be repaired in this generation, repairs to the top of the tower and viewing platform, repairs and development to the pews and underfloor heating.
There are also plans to introduce porch doors on the inside of the church to enable the doors to be opened fully without creating a draught, while also creating a visitor centre and a new educational interaction and activity scheme which would tell the story of the town and the church.
She said though that there were more visitors when the doors looked open, adding that when doors were open however, they lost a lot of heat, and when they were closed people had difficulty getting through them.
Rev Buxton said: “The vision for the parish and the church for the last four years has been to be a place of hospitality.
“St Botolph’s is a church, it’s a sacred space for the town.
“It does value the traditions of the faith and it is a a permanent antenna to the good news of the Christian Faith and Jesus Christ.
“But, for those of us that say we’re not into religion, that’s fine, but I’d just like us all to think of it as far more than just a church, it is not just a church, it is more than just another church. It is the town’s historical gem.
“It’s a beacon for all.”
Heritage Lottery Fund have said that the church can get £1,008,619 from them to help sponsor the project.
The church partnership has to find £1,166,700, the church parish has committed to £329,000 and other sources have brought in £279,822.
The church has also underwritten two full-time jobs to ensure the project gets underrway from 2020-25.
Rev Buxton revealed that it costs £504.21 to open the church per day, equating to a per hour cost of £63.03. Money is raised to keep the Stump open, not including building repairs, through donations by the congregation and activities held within the tower.
She compared the tourist information for similar venues with Peterborough Cathedral getting 50k visitors up to this point in the year, Lincoln Cathedral getting 100k, RSPB Frampton Marsh getting 50k visitors, Tattershall Castle getting 54k.
St Botolph’s Church had 93k visitors from January to July.
A number of councillors agreed the committee should support the endeavour.
Coun Brian Rush praised the work the church does saying: “What a wonderful iconic building we have and I think we undervalue it and I would really like to see it being top of the pops of our contributions.
“I think it pays back to Boston well in advance of what Boston pays to you.
“I think we do owe a debt of gratitude for both the tourist contribution of the church and everything else that goes along with it.”
However, he did urge councillors not to get too carried away with BTAC funding.
Councillors suggested that the church apply to the committee’s ‘Large Grants’ scheme, which they were due to confirm later that night.
Coun Paul Gleeson said the council ‘should be looking to make a donation for this year and next year’ and asked for a report.
Stephen Woodliffe and Alison Austin both praised how the plans looked to ensure the church remained at the heart of Boston’s community.
Coun Woodliffe called the church a ‘significant part of the town’.
“Without the Stump we would have we would have a serious issue attracting people to the area, so we have a vested interest in protecting The Stump,” he added.