Shimpling volunteer of nearly 60 years criticises Churches Conservation Trust

Maurice Philpot
Maurice Philpot

A long-standing Shimpling church volunteer who stood down after the building was repeatedly targeted by vandals has criticised the Churches Conservation Trust.

Maurice Philpot stepped down from his role of helping the 12th Century St George’s Church on September 10 after a near 60 year association with the parish, after the building was frequently vandalised since March.

St George's Church in Shimpling - the victim of vandalism ANL-160921-184809009

St George's Church in Shimpling - the victim of vandalism ANL-160921-184809009

In a statement to the Diss Express, Mr Philpot said he has “many happy memories” for his time volunteering, but accused the Churches Conservation Trust, who took over the church in 2005, of “throwing” its resources at it’s “honey-pot” buildings.

Peter Aiers, Director of the South East and North regions at the Churches Conservation Trust,said funds raised from promoting larger churches can be used to help more “isolated” churches.

The statement read: “Whilst St George’s was a Parish Church, I served the parish in various capacities, organist, and was still churchwarden when the building — and I — were declared redundant on June 1, 1987.

It continued: “Following the vesting of the building in the Churches Conservation Trust, I continued to serve as a volunteer — organising events and services and endeavouring to keep the church clean.

St George’s Church has been the target for vandalism and theft since March, but only now, when it’s too late, are security measures even being considered

Maurice Philpot

“The staff of the Churches Conservation Trust put their collective expertise to the benefit of the nation’s heritage each and every day, but the Trust has fallen into the trap of throwing its resources at its ‘honey-pot buildings’ — those that attract the most visitors — to the detriment of others.

“St George’s Church has been the target for vandalism and theft since March, but only now, when it’s too late, are security measures even being considered.

“It has been a privilege to have been involved with this special building.

“I record my thanks to the many people who have shared in its care; I retain many happy memories.”

St George's Church in Shimpling - the victim of vandalism ANL-160921-184634009

St George's Church in Shimpling - the victim of vandalism ANL-160921-184634009

In response, Mr Aiers told the Diss Express: “Often our smaller rural churches are in less of a position to be able to raise the much needed money and support needed to maintain their fabric and content.

“By promoting our larger churches nationwide as visitor and tourism heritage sites we can raise awareness of the importance of historic churches and raise funds that can be used to help care for more isolated churches such as St George’s.

“Additional security measures have been put in place at St George’s and local police are patrolling the area.

“We will continue to work with the police and the national Heritage Crime Advisor to improve security at the site and to find the perpetrators of the recent vandalism. We ask anyone who may know something about the recent crimes to call 101 and talk anonymously to Diss police.”