Historic church in Honiton to close for good under proposals

PUBLISHED: 11:00 05 March 2018 | UPDATED: 16:04 08 March 2018

St Michael's Church, Honiton. Photo by Terry Ife

St Michael's Church, Honiton. Photo by Terry Ife

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A historic church in Honiton dating back to the 15th century will close permanently if plans unveiled by the Diocese of Exeter are realised.

St Michael’s Church has been made subject to draft proposals by the Diocese of Exeter, after the administration revealed it could not continue to maintain the building.

In a letter to Honiton Town Council outlining its plans, the Diocese said: “The rationale behind these draft proposals is that the Parochial Church Council of Honiton with Monkton has indicated that it can no longer maintain the church, and has petitioned the Bishop of Exeter for its closure.”

Councillors discussed the proposals at a meeting last Tuesday (February 27) and resolved to express their regret in a letter sent to the Diocese.

Councillor Caroline Kolek asked about the future of memorial boards, commemorating ex-students of Honiton’s former Allhallows School who died in World War One, which are currently based at St Michael’s.

She said: “I know there was talk of getting those boards moved to St Paul’s Church.”

Cllr Jill McNally said the fabric of the church needed to be looked after, adding: “If it does close, it has to receive the best care and maintenance.

“There is a thing called the Churches Conservation Trust and I think we should petition to have the care and maintenance be undertaken by them.”

Councillors resolved to send a letter to the Diocese expressing regret and asking more questions about the proposals.

The uncertainty surrounding the future of St Michael’s Church has been rumbling on for more than five years.

A public meeting held in 2012 heard the building was little-used and in need of repairs costing tens of thousands of pounds.

At the time, it was reported that over three Sunday services, St Paul’s Church attracted an average of 105 worshippers, while a Thursday morning service at St Michael’s attracted an average of just 21 worshippers - including two priests and an organist.

At a council meeting in November last year, it was confirmed that St Michael’s would be unable to join other churches across the country to ring bells for Remembrance 2018.

This year’s celebration marks the 100th year anniversary of the end of World War One.

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