By Mick Jensen
The only operating church in Mt Somers is getting a much needed exterior spruce up.
St Aidan’s Anglican Church is pristine and impressive on the inside, but rotting weatherboards, flaking paint and damaged louvres in the bell tower are all overdue for maintenance.
The church has some of its own funds set aside, a $7000 heritage grant and local donations, but there is still likely to be a shortfall in the costly repair and restoration project.
Work will start at the end of the month and after the 116-year-old church has hosted a wedding.
Much of the cost of the church and nearby vicarage, now a private home, was funded by generous local Alfred Edward Peache, who owned and ran Mt Somers Station from 1884-1905.
His foresight and design oriented the main parts of the church to the sun and he also ensured it was anchored down on its north west end.
The anchors remain, alongside a small and functioning bell tower.
A memorial lychgate from the 1920s welcomes visitors from one side and the church sits partially hidden among trees that include totara, hawthorn and oak. There is a also a memorial garden, rhododendrons and plenty of holly.
St Aidan’s joint parish warden, Daphne Syme, said the church was overdue for upkeep on the outside.
Rotten boards would be replaced and the exterior painted over the coming weeks.
“We’re not too sure what we are going to find. It was last painted around 15 year ago, so it’s not done too badly.”
Mrs Syme said the church hosted twice monthly services and was a popular spot for sightseers passing through the township.
“It is well and truly worth preserving. It has history, holiness and it’s beautiful.”
Inside, the church was warm and welcoming and visitors often commented on how peaceful the church setting was.
A number of stained glass windows include the soldiers’ memorial window in the east wall that dominates the sanctuary. It is dedicated to those who died in World War 1 and 2.
Mrs Syme said her parents, herself and her daughters had been married in the church, as well as nieces and nephews.
St Aidan’s record keeper and parishioner, Lois Moodie, said the church was ecumenical these days and had a lot of history.
“There used to be catholic and presbyterian churches in Mt Somers, but both are now in private hands, so we are the only church in the township now.”
The church, which still had its original font made from local limestone, could seat 84 people at a push.
Embroidery around the altar had come from England and drapes behind it had been given by the late Lady Polson.
Mrs Moodie said there were a number of memorials around the church remembering the likes of long serving organist Lorna Collison and church warden Leo Palmer Chapman.