Iconic St Mary's Church weather vane back where it belongs

Wimbledon Guardian: Re-guilded: Andy Smith, Jonathan Picton, Nick Richardson, Peter Harknett and Mary Bide Re-guilded: Andy Smith, Jonathan Picton, Nick Richardson, Peter Harknett and Mary Bide

This golden weather vane will shine out over Merton as an iconic church reaches a restoration landmark this week.

An appeal to raise money to save the historic 200 foot spire of St Mary’s Church, Wimbledon, was launched last July – known to millions as the distinctive backdrop to the Wimbledon Tennis Championships.

On Monday, May 19, church-goers celebrated the re-guilding with gold leaf of the weather vane, which will sit on top of the spire.

It was blessed by the Rector, the Reverend Mary Bide, at ground level before it was replaced on the top of the spire by 79-year-old Peter Harknett – said to be the oldest steeplejack in the country.

Peter, from a family of steeplejacks, last worked on St Mary’s spire in 1976.

The Revd. Mary Bide, is going up to the top of the tower herself today to personally bless the work.

“It’s very exciting to have the project so near completion and we’re looking forward to it being unveiled for the whole community to enjoy,” she said.

The project has cost approximately £160,000, most of which has been raised through donations from the community and the All England Lawn Tennis Club.

The work to replace all the cedar wood shingles or roof tiles which had rotted is now complete, and other restoration work is near completion.

The scaffolding is due to come down before the start of the tennis championships starting on Monday, June 23.

Members of the church in St Mary’s Road are still appealing for donations to help complete the work.

People can give to the Save Our Spire fund on the website, by texting SPIR19 and the amount to 70070 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.

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