Standing in the heart of Hemel Hempstead's old town is an outstanding example of a large Norman parish church. It has remained essentially unaltered since it was completed in 1180AD having taken some 40 years to build. The tall elegant and richly decorated tower carries the octagonal spire, which has a height of 200 feet. It is one of the finest mediaeval spires in Britain and probably the tallest for a parish church. It is constructed of Oak and covered in lead arranged in a herringbone pattern. The spire was added in 1340AD. some 160 years after the completion of the building.

THE FRIENDS OF ST MARY'S CHURCH

We are a registered charity dedicated to raising funds for the restoration and preservation of this beautiful 12th century church, which still forms such an important part of Hemel Hempstead's heritage. Membership is open to anyone interested in supporting this aim.

WHAT THE FRIENDS HAVE ACHIEVED

Since the formation of the Friends in 1980, a number of projects have been undertaken. The most significant of these being the appeal for renovating and releading the spire. This work began in 1984 and was completed in 1987. The final work being completed and paid for using a loan from Dacorum Borough Council. The last payment of this loan was received by the council at a Thanksgiving and 21st anniversary service of the Friends on the 14th October 2001.

Other work includes:

Replacing the Victorian heating system with a modern system
Renewing the South Porch roof Repairing a crack in the turret
Repointing flintwork
Damp-proofing and replastering internal walls
Floodlighting and window guards


More recently repairs to 2 faces of the tower were completed in 1994, with work on the 2 remaining faces started in 1999 and completed in early 2000. As this list implies the work of the Friends is not one with a fixed completion date. Maintaining the fabric of an 850-year-old church is never ending, urgent and important structural issues arise every year.


Fund-raising with the Friends of St Mary's, Hemel Hempstead

The Friends of St Mary's have following fund-raising and other events planned for 2002.

Coffee Shop at St Mary's Church Hall

Every Saturday between 10.00 and 12.00 coffee, tea and a range of freshly baked home made cakes are for sale in St Mary's Church Hall in the beautiful precincts of St Mary's Church.

Bric-a-brac, second-hand books and souvenirs of the Church are also on sale in the Coffee Shop.

AGM - St Mary's Church Hall, 16th April

Find out about how the last year went, elect new members to the Council - even volunteer your own services! The formal proceedings (usually thankfully brief!) will be followed by an informal talk. This year's topic will be 'Bellringing - Campanology explained'.

Antiques Valuation - St Mary's Church Hall, 30th April

Do you have 'treasures in your attic'? Bring along your more portable antiques to this evening and have local expert Stephen Hearn from Auctioneers Brown and Merry value them. In addition, Stephen will be giving a brief presentation on the valuer's skills. Tickets cost £4 (including refreshments and free glass of wine) plus additional cost of £1 for every valuable presented for valuation (maximum of 3 per person). Tickets are available from Derek Hughes at hughesd@bre.co.uk.

Art Exhibition - St Mary's Church, 31st May - 9th June

Following the success of the first St Mary's Art Exhibition the Friends of St Mary's are staging a second exhibition. Local artists will be showing their works, both traditional and modern, in the historic setting of St Mary's Church itself. Most works will be for sale. Catalogues will be £1 available 'at the door'. Opening times are not yet confirmed contact Gordon West on 01442 266705 for details.

Summer Barbecue and Cream Tea - July 2002: date to be confirmed

The Friends of St Mary's will be holding their ever-popular Annual Summer Barbecue and Cream Tea in the summer. The date and venue for the event has yet to be confirmed. For further information please contact Derek Hughes on hughesd@bre.co.uk.

Annual Dinner - St Mary's Hall, October 2002: date to be confirmed

Following last year's excellent Medieval Banquet celebrating the Friends of St Mary's 21st birthday tickets for this event are sure to go like hot cakes. Excellent food, interesting table companions and a stimulating after dinner speech are the ingredients which makes this annual event one of the most enjoyable evenings on the Friends of St Mary's social calendar. For further information please contact Derek Hughes on hughesd@bre.co.uk.

Volunteers Wanted

The Friends of St Mary's are always looking for volunteers to help in their fund-raising. We are particularly short of help to run the coffee shop on Saturday mornings and the quarterly Tuesday Charity Markets in Hemel's Market Place. If you'd like to volunteer for this or any other fund-raising activity please contact the Friends. You don't need to be a member of the congregation to help!

If you'd like to help in the Coffee Shop please contact Val Taylor on 01442 250489. If you'd like to volunteer for other fund-raising activities please contact Gordon West on 01442 266705.