Vicar scales heights to bless new stone cross

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A BUILDING project saw Pagham’s vicar get closer 
to God.

The Rev Mark Eminson went on to the ROOF of 
St Thomas a’Becket Church to bless one of its 6ft-high new stone crosses.

He said the experience some 25ft above the ground was breathtaking as well as slightly scary.

“Even with a goodish head for heights, stepping from the tall ladders on to the scaffolding with a sheer 
drop on the other side needed all the help the angels 
could afford.

“But it was worth it. There are tremendous views from up high on the church and what skilled craftmanship from stonemason Bill Storey and his team.

“The addition of four new stone crosses is a fitting finishing touch to the project, with all the strength shown through vulnerability and weakness in the Saviour’s cross,” he said.

Mr Eminson was joined in scaling the heights above Church Lane by the churchwardens responsible for the building project, Louise Gibbs and Trudi Kearsley, and a photographer, Barry Stimpson.

“Perhaps hard hats and yellow jackets will take off as new clerical attire, not least as walking the Christian way can be a dangerous business,” said Mr Eminson.

“We were happy, some of us however, to be back on terra firma and content to press on with the spiritual challenges of parish life and leave ladders, scaffolding and stonemasonry to the experts.”

The crosses have been placed on the church’s corners. The £100,000-plus project included restoration brickwork around the tower and much of the exterior 
of the church.

It was funded by legacies of £130,000 from Marion Jenkin and £5,000 from Tom Street as well as a donation from the Friends of St Thomas a’Becket of £12,000.

“It was a five-month costly project,” said Mr Eminson.

“But the present congregation and wider parish community feel it is worthwhile to maintain this beautiful 800-year-old church building so it can be used for this generation and for generations to come.

“That could be for baptisms, weddings and funerals, Christmas and Easter, concerts and art exhibitions, afternoon tea on weekends in the summer months, concerts and art exhibitions, a moment of peace and prayer during the busy day and regular Sunday worship week in and week out.”

The church is open every day for visitors to enjoy and gain some peace and reflection.

The building work at the church was overseen by Simon Dyson from HMDW Architects and carried out by CWO Stonemasons.