Society marks jubilee milestone

A golden jubilee milestone of a leading church conservation charity was marked by special celebrations.

Membership of the Round Tower Churches Society, which was founded in 1973, has topped the 500-mark. In addition, the charity gave a record £36,500 in grants to 11 churches in Norfolk and Suffolk last year, said chairman, Stuart Bowell.

To mark the jubilee, a cake was baked and decorated for members at the latest annual meeting, which was held at St Peter’s Church, Gunton, near Lowestoft, on Saturday, May 13.

It was cut by the long-serving secretary ‘Lyn Stilgoe, of Burnham Market, who took over in May 1992.

In his annual report to members, Mr Bowell, of Stowmarket, said that during the past half century almost £400,000 in grants had been given to these special churches. While subscriptions were key, generous legacies had also helped.

“It is fitting in our Golden Jubilee Year that we are holding our annual general meeting here at St Peter’s Church, Gunton. Our founder, Bill Goode, worshipped here,” he added.

During the past year we have given a record amount in grants to help churches where the cost of repairs needed as astronomical. Small sums also help too when we visit churches on our programme of summer tours. We increased the contribution to each church to £100 and, of course, many supporters also make individual donations too.

The generosity of our members continued with the number of gifts, donations and legacies received during the year. Many non-members have also been generous too.

The programme of summer tours was well supported. The Society also reaches out with lectures and private tours given to local groups and societies.

The Golden Jubilee Guide – up-dated and listing all the round tower churches in England and Wales – is selling well. It is also a tribute to the late Stephen Hart, whose knowledge of these special buildings as an architect was without equal.

Our quarterly magazine, The Round Tower, keeps members informed. I’d like to thank the editor, Michael Pollitt, the contributors and graphic artist Annette Hudson and printers, Barnwell’s of Aylsham, and advertisers. The website and Facebook page also raise the Society’s profile. To them and all the hard-working members of the committee – a big thank you.

Finally, a special thank you to all of you who attended the annual meeting and to our members, who continue to be the bedrock of the Society. The total membership has passed 500 making it a significant part of our celebration of our 50th year.

Members raise a glass at St Peter’s, Gunton, on Saturday, May 13. Picture: Michael Pollitt.