Thursday, 24 June 2021

Medieval church ruins to become attraction

THE ruins of a medieval church are to be restored and turned into a tourist attraction.

THE ruins of a medieval church are to be restored and turned into a tourist attraction.

The old Church of St James at Bix Bottom has been left in a ruinous state since being abandoned 140 years ago.

It is on English Heritage’s “at risk” register and named a Scheduled Ancient Monument, meaning it is of national importance.

The restoration project, which has received a £96,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, will make it safe and accessible for visitors. A bench and information board will be installed and volunteers will be trained to ensure the continued care of the building.

Walking tours will run between the site and the Warburg Nature Reserve and site tours will be available for visitors and school groups.

John Hopkins, spokesman for St James Bix Parochial Church Council, which owns the old church, said: “English Heritage sees this as a significant monument and a major historical site so we want to make it a place where people can visit.

“The church is in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so there are lots of walks, pathways and bridleways around it. We had to fence it off and put signs up to warn people because it had become dangerous.”

Scaffolding has been put around the building and work to stabilise it has begun but is now on hold until the spring. The project should be finished by November next year. Mr Hopkins said: “Quite a lot of work has been done already and in a way in which people in years to come will be able to see it.”

The old church dates back to the 1600s, when the Saxon settlement of Bix Brand grew into a scattered hamlet with a manor house and cottages.

At the time of its closure, the weekly congregation was estimated to be 50 to 60 people.

The building was abandoned when the walls started to move and the hamlet relocated to Bix and the Assendons.

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