Friends give �4,000 for church repairs

the Friends of St Winifred’s, Branscombe, agreed at its annual meeting to make a grant of �4,725 to the church for repairs to memorial plaques on the walls, some dating back to the 16th century, and the large free-standing tomb of Anne Bartlett who died in 1606.

They also donated �1,000 to the fund to provide a unisex disabled toilet adjoining the church, which has now reached more than �8,000.

Friends chairman Dr Michael James said: “The Church of England no longer has the financial resources to maintain its huge stock of historic buildings, so we maintain St Winifred’s instead.”

Since their foundation in 1994, the Friends have given nearly �70,000 to repair and maintain the church.

The meeting on Saturday, held in the Masons Arms, was joined for tea by the Warden of Wadham College, Oxford, Sir Neil Chalmers, formerly the curator of the Natural History Museum, and a number of fellows of the college.

They were visiting Branscombe to mark the 400th anniversary of the college’s foundation by village resident Dorothy Wadham in 1610. Her husband Sir Nicholas Wadham, whose family had lived at Edge Barton in Branscombe since 1377, had died leaving his fortune to endow a college at Oxford. Despite never leaving Devon to visit Oxford, Dorothy, 75, bought land in the city and had the college built and open within four years. Silvan Robinson, of Edge Barton, said the visit had gone “swimmingly”.

“We were blessed by beautiful weather,” he said. As well as the tea, the visit included a walk around the village, incorporating the Wadham Memorial, and a dinner on the Saturday. There was a church service on the Sunday, followed by a bring and share lunch at Edge Barton.

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“Dororthy Wadham is quite a cult figure at the college and our visitors were delighted to see where’s she’d come from,” said Mr Robinson.