Wimbledon residents urged to help save iconic church spire after rainwater damages structure


The 170-year-old spire at St Mary’s Church is under threat


By Sarah Ward 

The Wimbledon skyline is under threat if local landmark St Mary’s Church cannot raise £130,000 to save its 170-year-old spire.

The fundraising campaign began in July to restore cedar-wood shingle tiles which have rotted, but the wooden structure of the spire is now thought to be in danger of collapse due to rainwater damage, increasing the cost of restoration.

So far £65,000 has been raised, but now the church is appealing to residents and businesses in Wimbledon Village for support, by distributing leaflets to houses around the parish.

Reverend Mary Bide said: “Many people will already know there is something wrong with the spire because lighter coloured patches are visible where some of the rotten tiles have been replaced.”

She thanked parishioners and the All England Lawn Tennis club for their generosity in raising funds so far.

“We hope the campaign will explain to everyone how serious the problem is and prompt as many people as possible to donate to the restoration fund,” she said.

Sylvia Davis, a bell-ringer at St Mary’s, said that it was vitally important that the spire is saved.

“It would be a shock to look at the church if the spire wasn’t there,” she said.

Not only would St Mary’s look different, it could sound different too.

“The bells might sound harsher, less blended together,” she said.

“The sound goes back into the spire, so the sound-waves would go back into a smaller space.”

St Mary’s is well-known by both local residents, and visitors who flock to SW19 during the tennis fortnight. Many will be familiar with St Mary’s Walk in the club’s grounds, named after the view of the spire.

The church’s history is a long one, going back to the Domesday Book when St Mary’s was a small wooden building, established in 1086.

William Morris, the Merton designer who spearheaded the arts and crafts revival of the 19th Century, designed stained glass windows for St Mary’s. Another window, depicting St George’s tomb, dates from the 15th Century.

The iconic 200ft spire was part of the church’s redesign by George Gilbert Scott, as the industrial revolution saw the suburbs expand.

Work to restore the spire will begin in January.

Donors can give to the Save Our Spire fund via Just Giving:, or by cheque made payable to St Mary’s Church and marked “Spire” sent  to the Parish Office, 30 St Mary’s Road, Wimbledon SW19 7BP.

To donate by text, send “SPIR19” and the amount to70070 

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