‘Bishop told me decision taken’

PUBLISHED: 09:34 06 June 2012

Richard Marker. Photograph by Terry Ife. Ref mhh 4172-17-10TI

Richard Marker. Photograph by Terry Ife. Ref mhh 4172-17-10TI

Archant

Richard Marker speaks out.

Prominent landowner and businessman Richard Marker, a patron of St Michael’s Church, says he received a letter from the Bishop of Exeter in June last year stating a decision had already been taken by the Parochial Church Council to close the church.

“So, are you open to discussion still?” he asked the rector at a public meeting.

Reverend Christopher Futcher, the Archdeacon of Exeter, replied: “We are seeking to begin a process towards closure.”

Mr Marker, a staunch supporter of the church and a former member of its disbanded management committee, said of the Grade II* Listed Building: “It’s over 500 years old.

“Even in 1911, when it burnt down and St Paul’s was here, they took the choice to rebuild it.

“There was a strong feeling about St Michael’s back then and there is a strong feeling now.

“It is the most beautiful building in Honiton. It has got facilities that could be used for exhibitions and recitals. Parking facilities are potentially there.”

Mr Marker, who has allowed a sign to be erected on his land next to the church saying ‘Save St Michael’s Church’, suggested the church council “looks outside the box” in a bid to reach out to the community.

He later told the meeting: “It is a very important building. Has English Heritage been approached for its feelings?

“The best way to keep an ancient building going is through intended use.”

Mr Marker suggested a feasibility study be drawn up to look at “every angle” of the church’s potential.

Reverend Sue Roberts said: “We did look at other uses.”

Turning it into a craft centre, exhibition space and recording studio were among the ideas explored, she revealed.

Mr Marker called for the reinstatement of the management committee and said: “Artists drooled over that church.

“Acoustically, it is supposed to be a wonderful place.”


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