Building Restoration Project – Update 2019

WINNING DESIGN OF NEW GARGOYLE FOR HISTORIC LIVERPOOL CHURCH TO BE INSTALLED AS PART OF £214,600 RESTORATION

A newly carved gargoyle has been erected on the south side aisle of Christ Church Toxteth Park, an historic Liverpool Church, as part of a restoration project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. People of all ages from across the city were invited to submit designs in an open competition. The winner in the adult age group, and overall, is local resident Verity Bradley. Verity recently completed an MA in Public History and Heritage at Manchester Metropolitan University.  In submitting her design Verity wrote, “I enjoy the dimensional aspect of sculpture and wanted it to reflect person and nature within one piece”. Pippa da Cruz, aged 8, won in the children’s age group. Pippa has profound disabilities; she attends Christ Church and lives nearby.

Gargoyle designers, Pippa De Cruz (runner up) & Verity Bradley (winner)

Entries to the gargoyle competition were varied and of a very high quality. The judging panel of 10 people included representatives of the contractors, the architect, the congregation, the local community, the diocese and the clergy.

The judges commented “This design was considered practical and had a strong link with the city, and with the growing support for Celtic worship. They liked the ambiguous gender fluidity of this piece; very pertinent for the church in the 21st century and beyond. Christ Church is an inclusive church. The figure is contemporary and offers an opportunity for people to view aspects of the image from different angles – the liver birds emerging from hair either side of the face, the face itself neither male nor female, and the Celtic headband.

The church council approved and commissioned the design, carving the design was completed in December and it will be installed on the south facing aisle of the church 10 – 12 midday on 22nd January 2019. The stonemason has carried on the theme of birds with wings folding under the chin of the gargoyle giving further charm to this piece.

A short video of Peter Miller, stonemason, working on the gargoyle (‘grotesque’)
Annette James interviews Peter Miller, stonemason

Christ church has held a place at the heart of the community near Sefton Park for almost 150 years, since it was consecrated in 1871 by the then Bishop of Chester.

Parishioners at Christ Church Toxteth Park in Linnet Lane discovered one of the Grade II listed building’s gargoyles was missing while investigating damage to the lower roofs which need urgent repairs. The overall winning design was chosen for innovation, creativity and functionality.

Christ Church is one of the city’s six surviving ‘Horsfall’ churches, built by the Horsfall family who funded and designed some of the city’s most important religious buildings. It is home to treasured stained-glass windows including one by Gustave Hiller which shows Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral under construction.

The church has one of the best collections of WW1 memorial brasses of any church in Liverpool. When they were commissioned 100 years ago, Christ Church would have been one of the richest parishes in the country.

The church has continued to serve the local community covering parts of Toxteth, St Michaels, Princes Park, Lark Lane and Aigburth for almost 150 years.

Now thanks to National Lottery players, a grant of £214,600 has been awarded through the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Grants for Places of Worship scheme.

The congregation and the local community are delighted to see the renovation of the lower roofs, which have suffered severe weather damage over the years, causing temperatures to plummet inside the church in winter.

Keith Hitchman (Vicar) & Councillor Anna Key at the installation

Reverend Keith Hitchman, vicar at Christ Church Toxteth Park said, “This current phase of ongoing restoration work marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Christ Church. Local people have been very supportive of this project. The new gargoyle and the grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund has already brought a new focus on the heritage of the local area.”

“We shall work together with local residents and neighbourhood organisations to make this beautiful building a fully accessible community resource, as well as a space for quiet contemplation and public worship.” 

Annette James, lay minister and project lead said, “Christ Church Toxteth Park is an inclusive church; people of all faiths and none are welcome, and are encouraged to come for reflection, to enjoy the architecture of the building, to learn more about the heritage of the church 1871 to the present day, and to share their stories.”  

Churchwarden Tinho da Cruz said, “We are always learning from those who come and share their experiences of Christ Church with us; baptisms, weddings, Sunday school attendance or singing in the choir. We want the building to be a welcoming place for everyone. The church has some notable stained-glass windows and houses the best collection of WW1 brass plaques anywhere in the city. At our recent heritage open day, we welcomed the daughter of Bernard Miller, the designer of the Reredos (the screen behind the altar). She was delighted to see her father’s work which she remembered from his drawing board, and was pleased to see the work of restoration to the church roofs.”

For more information on the Christ Church restoration project, contact Annette James on wisewomanmail@gmail.com

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, HLF invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLottery and #HLFsupported.

To date, almost £100million in HLF grants has been awarded to projects across the UK so they can mark the Centenary and explore all aspects of First World War heritage that matters to them. Through its First World War: then and now programme, HLF is making at least £1million available per year for six years until 2019. It is providing grants between £3,000 and £10,000 enabling communities and groups right across the UK to explore, conserve and share their First World War heritage and deepen their understanding of the impact of the conflict.

To find out how to apply for funding visit www.hlf.org.uk/thenandnow If a group needs a grant of more than £10,000 for a First World War project, it can apply to HLF through its open programmes www.hlf.org.uk/firstworldwar

To join the conversation on social media please use #understandingww1

Annette James, Project Coordinator
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