St Peters Church in Eype - where PJ Harvey recorded Mercury Prize Winner - given a reprieve

CLOSURE THREAT: Eype Church

CLOSURE THREAT: Janet Allen

ALBUM: PJ Harvey

First published in News Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by

MOVES to close a church where singer PJ Harvey recorded an award-winning album have been postponed.

The move is to buy time to see if support for St Peter’s Church in Eype promised at a public meeting materialises.

Around 50 people attended the crisis meeting and there are now plans to start a Friends of St Peter’s group to help keep the large Victorian church going.

The church is also home to the Eype Centre for the Arts started by Rev Ray Shorthouse more than a decade ago with a £250,000 investment from the Walbridge Trust.

The suggestion that the church was no longer viable stemmed from the declining congregation.

There are rarely more than two people at its monthly service.

Church supporter Janet Allen said: “There was a lot of support from the community, and the challenge now is to convert that into attendance at regular church services, and to form a group committed to helping the building survive.

“There is no immediate danger of St. Peter’s closing – the process has been stopped for the moment. We must work to prevent it being restarted. This means commitment to support and attend church services at St. Peter’s, to support the Eype Centre for the Arts, and to arrange and support other community events, using the excellent space, acoustics and light available.”

She said assurances have been given that whatever happens to the building the graveyard will remain consecrated.

Vicar and chairman of Symondsbury Parochial Church Council said: “I think it was a very positive meeting, there were lots of good ideas of how we can work together to re-invigorate the life of the church.”

Symondsbury PCC treasurer George Streatfeild said the idea to start a friends of the church group was excellent.

“There was a strong feeling that people wanted to keep the church going,” he said.

He said there was no timescale set on how long supporters would be given to prove their enthusiasm with action.

He added: “But people have to realise they have to actually get involved in the parish in a bigger way.

“I don’t like to drive people into a corner, setting a timescale would be foolish but people need to really back up their words with actions.”

He said he would be happy to support and help people getting involved.

  •  Polly Harvey recorded her eighth album Let England Shake at the church during a five-week period in 2010. It went on to win the 2011 Mercury Prize.

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