The Reverend Hugh Marmaduke Rowdon had had a rather uneventful time as vicar of Long Marston after he was appointed in 1885, succeeding the much more proactive William Caldwell Masters.
Then, in 1901, he faced a major crisis. The foundations of Long Marston Church began to shift and cracks, described in a later report as those ‘that a cat could get through’, began to appear. There was a danger that the roof was about to collapse and in 1906, the Church was closed. Services were held in the Parish Room, donated by Lord Rothschild earlier that year.
There was some dispute about the cause of the problem; some claimed it was the shrinkage of the clay in the foundations, others the drought in the previous year. A report in 1906 blamed the lack of tie beams to support the roof; the surveyor rejected the suggestion that the Church should not have been built on clay; ‘you could build a cathedral on it’ said the report.
The restoration of the Church was started in March 1907 following the visit of Bishop Edgar Jacob and a collection of £15 opened the way to more fund raising from villagers. The contractor was Job Gregory who was also Vicar’s Warden. He died soon after the work was completed in October.
The people of Long Marston decided to commemorate Mr Gregory’s contribution to the Church by adding a large porch and vestry in his honour. The Church was formally reopened by the Bishop in November 1908.
The total cost of the restoration was £1,500.
This Flashback is based on Margaret Vincent’s recently obtained and excellent history of All Saints Church Long Marston, 1883 – 1983.