Catholic Herald Reporter wARDOUR Church, built in the Wiltshire countryside when Catholic fortunes in England were at their lowest ebb, more than 20 years before the Catholic Relief Acts, is next week launching a £30,000 appeal fund for essential repairs to the fabric.
Sponsored by such prominent names as the Bishops of Portsmouth and Clifton, Sir Compton Mackenzie and Lady Albemarle, the appeal for All Saints Church will ensure that the Mass which has been said without break at Wardour since the days of Charles I, and probably since those of Elizabeth I, shall continue to be said in a church which stands as a monument to the spirit of fortitude under which it was built.
Sir Compton Mackenzie will be making an appeal for the fund on BBC Western Region at 8.25 p.m. on Sunday, May 5.
The church, designed by James Paine and considered "one of the architectural glories of England" was originally an oratory chapel for local Catholic use built by the Arundell family as part of classical house they built late in the 18th century to replace old Wardour Castle.
The Castle, which had belonged to the family since 1547, was forced
to surrender to the Roundheads in 1646. Two weeks later Lord Arundell himself besieged it and, as a loyal subject of Charles I, had no compunction about blowing up his own home.
The castle was never rebuilt, the family moving into the present house in 1776.
The house and estate remained in the family until the last Lord Arundell died on active service in 1944 when the property was largely dispersed. The great house was bought by the Jesuits and is now let as a school.
The church was separated from the main property in 1898 when the then Lord Arundell founded a charitable trust under which church. presbytery, Catholic village school and cemetery have been administered, the Jesuits continuing to supply parish priests.
"If only 200 Catholics subscribed E10 a year under a ten year deed of covenant the church could easily be saved," says the appeal. All contributions will be gratefully acknowledged by The Treasurer, Wardour Church Appeal Fund, Little Wincombe House, Donhead St. Mary. Shaftesbury. Dorset.