St. Michaels Restoration Project.



We are extremely grateful for the generous donations and grants to support the restoration of St Michael's from Trusts and Foundations, including those listed below:

All Churches†Trust

Benham Trust

Bernard†Sunley Trust

Constance Travis Trust

Davidge Usher Trust

Francis Coales†Charitable Foundation

Garfield†Weston Foundation

National†Churches Trust

National Lottery Heritage Fund

Northamptonshire Historic Churches Trust

Repair and Restoration of St Michael’s, Church Stowe

Anglo Saxon carved stone found concealed in the tower of St Michael's Church

During the restoration of the Saxon tower of St Michael's a previously unknown Saxon carved stone was discovered under the render of the Tower. It is believed to be part of a free-standing cross. Another section on the cross was visible prior to the restoration, with a third section of the cross stored within the church.

Members of the the Museum of London Archaelogy (MOLA) team have been providing expert guidance and insight throughout the restoration project and have published an article which provides information about standing stones and the remarkable similarity between the Church Stowe cross and one at Rothley, Leicestershire. The discovery of the stone has excited the interest of eminent historians at the Universities of Leicester and Durham, who will feature the Church Stowe stones in a record of Anglo Saxon stone sculpture.

To read the full article from MOLA, including a link to a 3D render of the Rothley cross please click here.

Our church is undergoing major restoration and repair to its bells and its Saxon Tower. Unfortunately St Michael’s is expected to remain closed until the end of 2020.

We are grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, other generous grants, donations and loans, and our local community for their support in fundraising, without which we would not have been able to save our church from likely collapse.

The tower and older parts of St Michael’s are believed to date from 956 AD.

St Michael’s has been recognised as being of the highest national importance … the height of its tower and the number of Saxon architectural features being particularly rare.

The tower usually houses 4 bells – the oldest was cast in 1390. That and the other bells cast in 1590, 1607 and 1725 have been removed for repair and refurbishment. When the tower is safe for their return they will be joined by a new bell cast in 2020.

A pictorial story of the progress on bell renovation can be found by clicking the 'Bells' link at the top of the page, and for progress on the tower , click the 'Church Restoration' link.

We have significant loans to repay and further work to fund. If you would like to donate to help preserve this historically important church, we would be extremely grateful.

Bank details for payment are:

Account name: Friends of Michael’s No 2 Business Reserve A/C

Sort code: 56-00-60 Account Number: 40646947

Reference: Tower

Update Letter - June 2020


We are sure that you've been aware of the work being carried out on our church tower. It has been very special to see the 1000 year old stones revealed underneath the render. Unfortunately, the builders have discovered that the renovation last carried out in 1924 was badly done, with cement used instead of lime mortar. In addition, huge cracks have been exposed. The good news is that the final rendering will be a uniform finish and colour, i.e. not a piebald effect. The outcome of that is that an additional £100,000 is required to complete the work. Happily this has been secured, partly by the use of loans, but it essential that we keep fund-raising. The building work can now continue without a break.

Why bother, you may think? But the church building has been an integral part of our village for 1000 years, and people have looked after it for us so far, and so it now falls to us to maintain it for future generations.

We sadly had to cancel some wonderful fund-raising events. We have some thoughts on alternative events, and we will keep you informed of these, one idea is a Treasure Hunt by car, with a carefully distanced get-together at the end. We still hope it will be possible to have Jeremy Mainwaring Burton here on the 23rd September 2020 talking about the Late Queen Mother's Jewels. He was the Queen Mother's Equerry, and is a very amusing speaker. Hopefully, Jesus College Choir will come in July 2021, rather than July of this year.

One easy way you could support our appeal is by using Easy fundraising when you buy goods on-line, which many of us are doing at the moment. To sign up forEasy fundraising you click on: and you are helping Friends of St Michael's, Church Stowe. We would be very grateful.

Roll up, roll up! We still have 18 squares left of 120 of our beautiful hand-made King size quilt, in muted colours to fit in with any colour scheme. It was made by the Queen of Quilters, Carole Wood. We should dearly love to sell these remaining squares so that we can draw the winning ticket. Please help us by putting your ticket money into our bank account: Friends of St Michael's, Bank a/c number: 40646947, Sort Code 56-00-60, sending Felicity Prior an email to let her know and she will allocate you a square. Her email address is:

We would be very grateful for your help to see this restoration project through, so we are looking for new members to help in all our groups. This need not be very onerous, but hopefully good fun.

The groups are:

Local Fundraising Group - this involves helping with the organisation of local events in the village.

Regional Fundraising Group - this involves helping with a maximum of 3-4 events held in the boathouse, which all villagers are encouraged to support, with a further target market being the wider community across the county.

Communications Group - this group spearheads the written, social media, and internet communications ensuring that all stake-holders are aware of what we are doing. They are also responsible for visitor engagement, and the creation of materials that will be displayed in the church once it reopens to tell the story of St Michael's unique history and treasures.

We would be delighted to hear from you if you are willing to help with any of these groups:

Communications - Christine Downton

National Fund-raising team - Stephen between names)

Local Fund-raising team - Felicity Prior -

Regional Fund-raising team - Judy Ellwood-

Please contact the relevant team leader if you would be happy to assist us from time to time.

We do hope you can help us to continue restoring our wonderful village church - we have one of only three Saxon buildings in the county of Northamptonshire, and it deserves our help.

We look forward to hearing from you.


The Quilt

20 Jan 2020 - PRESS RELEASE

Saxon Church of St Michael’s Church Stowe secures National Lottery support

Today, the Stowe Nine Churches PCC has received a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £96,400 for an exciting heritage project - the restoration and repair of the Saxon church of St Michael’s, Church Stowe. Made possible, in part, by money raised by National Lottery players, the restoration project also aims to increase awareness and widen engagement in St Michael’s unique and important history.

The project costing c. £250,000 in total will repair the Grade 1 listed Saxon tower of St Michael’s – which is unique for its height and is considered to be of the highest national importance. In addition the grant will enable repairs to the fabric of the church including internal and external walling and work on the roof. The bells contained within its tower – one of which dates from 1390 will be rehung and made safe. Contained within the church are several important sculptures – including the memorial to Lady Elizabeth Carey created by Nicholas Stone. It is regarded as one of the most impressive early baroque monuments in England.

Supported through The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the project will enable the creation of new interpretation materials, including Apps, story boards and guides to more effectively tell the story of the Church and its ‘treasures’ to visitors of all ages. In addition, a planned series of choral, artistic and educational events will help to celebrate the history of St Michael’s and the surrounding area.

St Michael’s and the village of Stowe Nine Churches is rich in history – it is widely considered to be the location for the Battle of Watling Street where Queen Boudica was defeated by the Romans in AD 60, the site of an Anglo-Saxon cult in 700, the home of Catherine Parr the only surviving wife of Henry VIII and more recently in 1935 radar was demonstrated for the first time in the village, ultimately playing a major role in the Battle of Britain.

Commentating on the award Stephen Henley, Churchwarden said “We are delighted to have received this support thanks to National Lottery players, and we are excited to restore such an important local ‘treasure’ and attract children and adults to the village to learn more of its unique heritage.”

About Friends of St Michael’s Church Stowe

The project is being co-ordinated by a group of local volunteers – the Friends of St Michael’s – with the backing of the Stowe Nine Churches PCC. Drawn from a variety of professional and personal background the volunteer group is co-ordinating national and local fundraising, communications and community engagement and project management of the restoration itself.

About The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, leadandresourcethe UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting changefor people and communities, now and in the†future.

Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund


PROGRESS REPORT - December 2019

Dear Friends of St Michael’s Restoration Fund,

We wanted to give you a final update as we near the end of 2019.

As indicated in the October newsletter our application to the National Heritage Lottery Fund is making slow but steady progress - there are a few key pieces of documentation and approval that need to be obtained - behind the scenes members of the Steering Committee are working really hard to achieve that. So we keep our fingers crossed that we will have positive news in the new year but nothing is confirmed yet.

In the meantime we are focused on other sources of fundraising and awareness building.


We have created a fundraising page on - its a very simple way to raise funds for St Michael’s without costing you a penny.

If you shop online, please could you sign up to easyfundraising to support St Michael's Church Stowe, Restoration Appeal -

and click ‘Support This Cause’

It’s a really easy way to raise money for St Michael's – you just use the easyfundraising site to shop online with more than 3,600 well known online stores like Amazon, Argos, John Lewis, ASOS,, eBay, Boden, and M&S and when you make a purchase, the retailer sends us a free donation, at no extra cost to you.

Hopefully you will still have a few last minute Christmas presents to buy that could help provide a little extra to the fundraising appeal.

(Please let Christine Downton know if you need any help to sign up to it.)

Autumn Series of Talks

During September, October and November a series of talks were organised by Lady Ellwood supported by St Michael’s volunteers. These helped raise well over £3,000 towards the appeal and also attracted a lot of people from outside Stowe Nine Churches helping to build awareness of the St Michael’s appeal. As well as local fundraising, increasing awareness in the wider community is a really important measure for the National Heritage Lottery Fund so hopefully that will also help our application.

As we approach 2020 a series of events are being planned to support the fundraising and awareness building - we will let you know the details when these are confirmed.

Thank you very much for your support during 2019.

Wishing you all the very best for Christmas and a healthy and happy 2020.

As always if you know of anyone who you think would like to be kept informed of our activity please let Christine know.

Yours sincerely,

Friend’s of St Michael’s Church Stowe

PROGRESS REPORT - October 2019

Dear Friends of St Michael’s Restoration Fund,

Our application to the National Heritage Lottery Fund is still making progress. Naturally for such a substantial application a lot of detailed documentation and rationale is required. We will keep you updated as and when we here anything.

In the hope that our application is successful we are continuing ‘behind the scenes’ to make activity plans and preparation to ensure we are in the best position to take action should we be given the funding.

In the meantime the important and valuable local fundraising is continuing:

- the very enjoyable Race Night held at the Old Dairy Farm Restaurant made a profit of £1,294

- and on Wednesday, 23rd October the first in a series of talks at the Boat House by the Lake in Church Stowe raised over £1,000 and was attended by 60 people.

The next talk in the series will take place on Wednesday, 23rd October, 2019 – 2.00-4.00 pm, again at the Boat House by the Lake.

Peter Stratton will give an insight into the little-known German Prisoner-of-War camp at Eastcote.

Over 4000 German prisoners were detained there, and now there’s absolutely no sign of it. It’s a fascinating story, well told by Peter.

Tea and delicious cakes will be served.

Tickets for the talk are £15 and can be obtained from Lady Ellwood - telephone: 01327 349161 or

So if you haven’t already booked your ticket please let Judy know if you would like to attend.

Thank you all for your on-going support.

As always if you know of anyone who you think would like to be kept informed of our activity please let me know.

Yours sincerely,

Friend’s of St Michael’s Church Stowe


Dear Friends of St Michael’s Church Stowe,

It has been a busy month …

It was good to see so many people at the anniversary celebration on the 6th July. And thankfully the weather was kind. We hope you enjoyed the evening.

We were able to announce that the combination of fundraising activity, donations and contributions from trust and foundations has enabled us to raise a remarkable £161,000 so far.

An application to the Heritage National Lottery Fund has been submitted - this entailed an enormous amount of work from many people to complete a very detailed application.

We are unlikely to hear the outcome until mid-September, but fingers-crossed as this would make a significant contribution to our fundraising and the ability to start work.

But our fundraising efforts do not stop there as we still need to raise funds from our own activity - community engagement being an important requirement for any contribution from trusts and funds. So in that spirit here are some dates for the diary.

Dates for the Diary:

Race Night - Friday 13th September

At the Barn Restaurant, Upper Stowe for an 8pm start.

Tickets to be purchased in advance at a cost of £12.50 to include a fish and chip supper and your race programme.

There will be a bar available and all proceeds from the evening will go towards the Friends of St Michael's Appeal for the repair of the church tower at St Michael's.

Tickets available from Felicity Prior 07760 228128

Helen Kirby 07753 660834

A series of lectures on Churches, Country Houses and Prisoner of War Camps on:

Wednesday, 25th September, 2019 – 4.00-6.00 pm

Wednesday, 23rd October, 2019 – 2.00-4.00 pm

Thursday, 21st November, 2019 – 2.00-4.00 pm

All kindly hosted by Peter and Judy Ellwood at the Boathouse by the lake in Church Stowe.

Come and learn some interesting and amusing facts. Tickets are £15.00 per lecture or £40.00 for three. In aid of the restoration of our ancient church.

Full details are shown on the attached flyer.

Please circulate the flyer to any organisations or individuals you think might be interested in coming along.


If you have popped into St Michael’s recently you will have seen that there are new display boards for the churchyard Wildlife Meadow, and also one to highlight some of the key features within the church. When you are in the church there is a also a very clever smartphone guide with a voiceover to bring to life some of the significant features (details of how to activate it are on the display board in the church).

Thank you all for your on-going support.

As always if you know of anyone who you think would like to be kept informed of our activity please let me know.

Yours sincerely,

Friend’s of St Michael’s Church Stowe