The Rector of Chester says his prayers have been answered following essential repairs to the Parish Church of St John the Baptist and its adjacent ruins.
And Rev David Chesters OBE is so thrilled with the work taking place he intends to hold a service of thanksgiving once project leaders Chester Renaissance complete the work.
Chester Renaissance Chief Executive Rita Waters says they have project managed essential works including tree maintenance work around the site as recommended by Cheshire West and Chester Council’s arboricultural consultants and essential masonry repairs which were urgently required to protect and secure the future of the fabric of the building and ruins.
She said: “It’s always difficult when trees need to pruned or even removed but some of the trees around St John’s were showing signs of disease while the lower limbs of some were growing toward the corner of the towers and church and, as a result, were causing damage to the fabric of the historic building.
“By pruning the trees and removing the diseased ones we have improved views and opened up an area that due to the density of the trees was susceptible to anti-social behaviour. Further, we have removed vegetation and restored what is an important ancient monument.
“But it doesn’t stop there – we have more work to do in this area and under the watchful eye of Chester Renaissance project leader Magnus Theobald we are still in the process of delivering improved footpath and landscaping works along Vicars Lane, repairs to the Chapter House door and specialist masonry work to the church and ruins identified as urgently required after the vegetation was cleared.”
She added: “This work has been made possible through working together with several partners including Cheshire West and Chester Council, the Church itself, architectural engineers Giffords and specialist stone masons Maysand.
“It has shown how we can all make a huge difference to St John’s by improving the whole area for both visitors and residents. This is all part of the process of adding value to our city and achieving our goal of making Chester a must see European destination.”
Rev David Chesters OBE said: “I am extremely pleased with the work undertaken so far and what has been achieved. I look forward to celebrating the work of Chester Renaissance and its partners at a service of thanksgiving later this year.
“For some years now we have tried to get this work done but I do understand the financial restraints and planning required before work could get underway on what is, after all, a Grade 1 listed building as well being as an important ancient monument and one of the holiest sites in the North of England.
“The overgrown and diseased trees meant many people could not see the church from the road. Now, thanks to the programme of careful pruning and the removal of diseased trees, not only can residents and tourists see the church but anti-social behaviour in the area around the ruins has been slashed.”
He added: “I am extremely grateful to Chester Renaissance and its partners for what has been achieved and I hope my prayers for the site to be floodlit at night will be answered in due course.”
Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Assistant Executive Member for Prosperity Cllr Stuart Parker says he is delighted with the improvements to the area around the Parish Church of St John’s.
He said: “I am delighted the appearance of the parish Church of St John’s and the surrounding area has been so dramatically improved and as a result anti-social behaviour has been reduced.
“The appearance of the whole area has improved dramatically and all Chester residents can be proud of the city’s rich heritage and the manner in which it is being protected.”