Friends of St Andrew's

When the church was threatened with closure in 1980, villagers rallied to save it and their untiring efforts from 1980 to 1988 resulted in the building being saved and the restoration process being set in place.

A newspaper report from 1988 stated:

'A Norman church has been saved from demolition (closure would have been more accurate) after a 10-year crusade.

Residents of South Devon's Bere Ferrers, named after nobleman Sir William de Ferrers, fought to keep their beloved but dilapidated 13th-century St Andrew's.

They have raised £85,000 through fetes, jumble sales, watersports events, bonfire evenings and barbecues.

But even the most steadfast fund-raiser began to get disheartened when investigations revealed that the cost of re-roofing and other vital restoration was £300,000 or more.

Then English Heritage offered to pay three-quarters of the overall cost of the work, now due to be completed by Easter.

'Miracles do sometimes happen - and English Heritage was our particular miracle,' said retired farmer Mr Robin Gallup, who set up the Friends of St Andrew's committee......'

The report went on to say that there had been 'a restoration job' in 1871 after the church had fallen into disrepair, and it had now been discovered that the 19th-century timbers had rotted, but the medieval wood was as good as ever!

The friends followed as a result of the restoration efforts and have been in existence since 1988, when it was formed to generate friends for the further restoration and redecoration of the beautiful and ancient church. When the builders left, the friends undertook the redecoration and furnishing of the church. The phased restoration work was eventually completed in 1998, although the church is in constant need of repair and the friends have continued, although currently in a more relaxed mode.

A book in the church records the names of the friends throughout the years and those who have donated money. Inside it says:

'All churches need friends....

Those who preach, service, sing and make music:

Those who ring bells, arrange flowers, sweep, mop and dust:

Those who teach the children:

And those who week by week sit, sing, listen, pray, and by their contributions help to further the work of the church.'

Among the projects undertaken or supported by the friends over the years are the kneelers, which were made by members of and friends of the church in 1989 and 1990. Thirty-eight people, mostly from the parish, took part in the project. The themes included The Creation, Old Testament and New Testament Stories, Parables, and Saint Andrew.

The Friends are currently supporting financially the creation of kitchen facilities and a toilet at the church.

Subscriptions and booklets

There are booklets on the history of the parish which the friends have produced, together with postcards, bookmarks and other information. These are available in St Andrew's Church, or alternatively contact us if you would like a copy or would be interested in becoming a friend of the church.

The booklets are:

A History of Bere Ferrers Parish, originally written by the Rev Arthur Beddows, newly revised in 2010 and reprinted in colour. £3 plus P&P

St Andrew's Church, Bere Ferrers: A Short History and Guide. £1.50 plus P&P (currently awaiting reprint)

The Kneelers. A description of the kneelers, with pictures of many. £1 plus P&P (out of print)

The Friends of St Andrew's minimum subscription is £10 per annum, payable on the 1st January.

A £150 lump sum at any time creates a lifetime membership.