St Mary's was declared redundant in 1975 and the church was put under the Secretary of State for the environment. This responsibility was transferred to English Heritage in 1990. Local residents, fearful that it would become just another ancient monument unloved and uncared for, negotiated with English Heritage to establish a unique management arrangement whereby the church was looked after on a day to day basis by a local keyholder and others through an informal association, which in time became the Friends of Kempley Churches. Their success can be measured in the number of visitors and the status of the church as a favourite site for architectural historians. The frescoes and wall paintings are artefacts of singular interest and importance.
The Friends raise considerable sums for the upkeep of both St Mary's and St Edward's churches and the charity is managed by a committee of Trustees. Involvement with the local community is a key activity as is our interaction with the local primary and secondary schools.
Both churches are open to visitors daily from March to October between 10 am and 6 pm. In recent years, as knowledge of the churches have spread we have had many overseas visitors as well as UK Civic Societies, Arts and Crafts groups, historians and many schools. Organised groups, maximum 25 persons in either church at any one time, are always welcome but please be aware that the tours should be booked in advance to avoid clashes with other bookings. Teas and refreshments can also be arranged for larger parties. Access to both churches is free but a generous donation to the offertory box is appreciated. Talks on the history and significance of both churches are available. The fee for these is £5.00 per person with a minimum charge of £50.00.
Kate Blandford - 07973770927 is the keyholder for St Mary's.
All are welcome to join our charity and the annual subscription is a modest £10.00 although larger donations will always be appreciated. An online application form is attached below and this can be forwarded with the membership fee to:Mrs Geraldine Rees, Hedgerow House, Kempley Green, Dymock GL18 2BW
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