The Victorian Restoration
Revd James Raper Hoare was appointed Vicar of Warmington in July, 1873 and must have been dismayed to find the Church of St Mary the Blessed Virgin suffering from neglect and in an advanced state of decay. It urgently needed restoration. The unusual wooden roof in the nave was in a dreadful condition. The two porches were ‘tottering’. The flooring and seating were ‘of the worst description and needed removal’. The tower and spire needed repair and of the five bells, only three were fit for use.
The Vicar and his wife, Octavia Lucy Hoare, set to work to raise money for the restoration and to employ the famous architects Sir George Gilbert Scott (responsible for the nave) and Benjamin Ferrey (responsible for the chancel). It was a mammoth task, involving the closure of the church.
On Friday, 6 October 1876 the church was re-opened with a service led by the Lord Bishop of Peterborough. This was followed by lunch in the school room. The Vicar of Fotheringhay proposed a toast to Revd Hoare, ‘. . . by whose strenuous efforts, assisted solely by Mrs Hoare, the numberless obstacles were overcome. It was a work, the magnitude and difficulties of which made it seem almost impossible, but . . . bringing great determination and energy to bear upon it, Mr and Mrs Hoare have at last the great pleasure of seeing the grand old church restored.’
The Bishop's sermon can be found here
A 20-page illustrated booklet was published in July 2019 about the events of that day and the restoration which is now very much in evidence in church. The booklet is available to purchase in church for £2.50.