Tin Hut Tabernacles

The National Churches Trust has confirmed £370,000 funding to help support the repair and modernisation of 23 places of worship in England and Wales.

St Mary’s, Sawley, Derbyshire

St Mary’s, Sawley, Derbyshire

Places of worship receiving grants include St Mary’s, Sawley, Derbyshire – one of the last surving ‘tin hut tabernacles’ – and St John the Evangelist, Tolpuddle, Dorset, where James Hammett, one of the Tolpuddle Martyrs is buried. Both these places of worship receive National Churches Trust Communuity Grants, which will help them provide a greater range of modern facilities for worshippers and vistors.

St Mary’s
At St Mary’s, Sawley, Derbyshire the National Churches Trust grant will help fund a project to open up the building to the wider community and ensure that it is used every day by adding a fully fitted kitchen, an additional accessible toilet and opening up the internal space to give an increased area for social and communal activities which would be accessible to visitors with disabilities.

St Marys’ church is the only remaining ‘tin-hut tabernacle’ used for regular worship in the Anglican Diocese of Derby. It was loaned second hand from Heanor Parish in 1912 as a mission daughter church to All Saints’ church in Sawley – a chapel-of-ease situated between All Saints’ church and St Lawrence church in the centre of Long Eaton. It enabled local people to attend a church service/Sunday school without having to walk several miles. The long term plan was to erect a brick built church, but this did not happen because of the Great War which followed on soon after.

St Mary’s has become an increasingly vibrant community hub in the Wilsthorpe ward of Long Eaton over the last 2 years. Weekly clubs now include ‘Knit and Natter’, SMILE lunch club and Alcoholics Anonymous.

St John the Evangelist
At St John the Evangelist, Tolpuddle, Dorset the National Churches Trust grant will help fund a project which includes the construction of a small extension to accommodate a disabled toilet and the installation of kitchenette.

This is considered essential for the future of the Church. St John’s as a flexible community space would be well used. The association of the village with the Tolpuddle Martyrs attracts many visitors and the Martyrs Museum alone has 40,000 visitors a year, many of whom come onto visit the church and its churchyard containing the grave of James Hammett.

The present building has elements dating from the 12th century, including the Nave, a Romanesque doorway with a fine tympanum inside the south porch and a smaller doorway relocated from the original Nave north wall to the north wall of the North Aisle. Use of the Church is currently limited due to the lack of a water supply, kitchen facilities and a disabled WC.

In the churchyard there is a commemorative headstone by the sculptor and engraver Eric Gill to mark the grave of James Hammett (1811-1891), the only Tolpuddle Martyr to return to live and die in the village after transportation. A wreath is laid on James Hammett’s grave each year during the Martyr’s Festival in July. In the year 1832, the Vicar of Tolpuddle, the Rev. Thomas Warren betrayed the agricultural workers of Tolpuddle (many of whom were Methodist). He did this by first acting as a witness to an agreement between farm labourers and land owners for a fair wage, and then denying any such agreement when the land owners went back on their promises. In 2010 a covenant was signed between the Church of England and the Methodist Church and the rift was healed.

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