The Friends of St Neots Parish Church

We raise funds to help conserve and restore this beautiful 15th century Parish Church. Registered Charity No 1178630
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St Neots Parish Church is a large 15th century church in the small town of St Neots in west Cambridgeshire. Its postcode is  PE19 2BU.

Hon Secretary:
We need Friends to help us with the repair and restoration of this historic church.
Will you please join us in preserving this
beautiful, ancient and important building?
We are a registered charity and your donation is eligable for Gift Aid
Our Friends are people who want to help restore and repair this beautiful church building  for the future. They are people of all faiths
and none. The Friends are a non-religious organisation but we work closely with the Church Council on Restoration matters.
We also have friends who help by supporting our fund-raising events.

Laugh Allowed Opera
Saturday 16th November 2019  7.30 pm
St Neots Parish Church PE19 2BU
Tickets £12.50

This is a small group of professional opera singers who have a wacky, irreverent and amusing way with opera: dressing up, rapid changes, making fun of the 'Opera Classics' but also actually performing them. Most are sung in English and include favorite arias.  They have performed for us before and were so successful that we booked a return visit.

Spring  Events not released yet
Concert by Ely Cathedral Choir
The choir of Ely Cathedral, director Paul Trepte,  agreed to perform a fund-raising concert for us on
Saturday 2nd March 2019 in our church.
This was the traditional choir of boys and men which sings services in the Cathedral.  It was a rare chance to hear them here in St Neots. The singing and the voices were amazingly
good!  And we had an audience of 160 !
It was a wide-ranging programme including traditional choir music and also some recent compositions and some organ solos too.. There were some light- hearted moments: At the end of the concert and after warm applause, the choir took off their cassocks and the boys raced off en masse to the toilets. Then they returned to finish off the refreshments!  Bowls of crisps vanished very quickly, washed down with soft drinks.  Well-earned and well-behaved too!  The adult members of the choir may have joined the audience in a glass of wine! We were all on a 'high'. And a good sum of money was raised also.

Concert by 'HEXACHORDIA'
"Puddings and Pies" 
with puddings and pies after the concert
Saturday 15th June 2019
in St Neots Parish Church at 7.00pm 
Hexachordia is an ensemble of professional musicians who play authentic instruments and music of around the time of Queen Elizabeth  I and just after. So it was an unusual  opportunity  to hear and see this music live and close-up.  It was a light-hearted programme and an informal concert, with questions from the audience afterwards.  After the music, authentic food of this period was served (freshly made by an expert cook) together with a glass of wine (....pehaps two).  It was a fun opportunity to help us raise money for restoration and repair of the building and it was a nice social event too. We had planned for an audience of 60 - the catering had to be planned! But in the event 66 people were present as a few extra turned up without tickets. But there was plenty of food. Members of the audience enjoyed seeing shawms, crumhorns, bagpipes as well as flutes, lutes and other string instruments. The performance include recitation poetry of the period. A very good evening enjoyed by all.
Our 2019 Annual General Meeting took place on 15th May 2019 in St Neots Parish Church. The accounts for 2018-2019 financial year show that we raised £4202 and also show how we have deployed the money we have raised.  Please ask if you want a copy of the report and accounts. In our first 5 years we have raised a total of £32275 towards our objects of repairing and restoring St Neots Parish Church. In the past year we have supported repair of the chiming clock in the Church Tower and purchase of seat cushions for the pews in the the church. We need more members so please contact us.
Cheese, Paté and Wine Social Evening
Saturday 6th October 2018
at 7.30pm

Fine wine and cheeses with a variety of 'real' pat
There was an interlude of live music played by Greg May, a local young man of talent.
In St Neots Parish Church (the heating was on).
This is our annual social event and it was well-attended.

How have we used the money we have raised so far?
In financial year 2016-2017 we gave £6000 towards the cost of repairs to the roof of the north aisle of the church and we purchased and installed a new bench seat in the churchyard (£856). This year so far we have provided cushions for the pew-seats in the church (Thus all users of the church, including people attending our concerts, will benefit.) We also paid for a repair to the mechanism of the chiming clock in the tower.

Saturday  3rd   March 2018 in church at 7.30 pm
RAF Wyton Voluntary Brass Band
This was an excellent concert with some really good playing and good solos also.
We had an audience of 150 people and made a profit of £1730 towards future restoration work.
Thanks to the Band and all who supported us.
Saturday 23rd September 2017 in church at 7.30pm
Cheese, Pate and Wine Party
This was an informal, congenial event to raise funds with about 60 people present (some others bought tickets but were unable to come) and we made a profit of about £536.
There was a live musical interlude by Friends Martine Brooks and Eileen Raggatt, both playing the flute at a very high standard much appreciated by those present.

Saturday 18th November 2017 in church at 7.45pm
'The Kingsmen'  - the Choral Scholars of the Choir of King's College Chapel, Cambridge - sang a wonderful concert for us.
They sang a wide range of musical genres and were genuinely entertaining. Not only did they have wonderful young voices and terrific 'ensemble' (musical together-ness) but they clearly enjoyed singing for us.  We sold 220 tickets and thereby made £2740 profit for The Friends. 

Kingsmen Nov18 2017
Hatstand Opera  19th November 2016 - an amazing and very entertaining performance!


The Choir of Caius College Cambridge
The programme included Allegri's "Miserere" and William Byrd's "Five-part Mass". The Miserere was performed with the second choir and the cantor in different parts of the church from the main choir. It was a truly amazing experience! And wonderful singing.
Saturday 4th March 2017 at 7.30 pm in Church

"One of the best choirs in Cambridge at present"

Caius choir

Our net profit was £1371

Our fund-raising concert on Saturday 23rd April 2016David Gower as Henry V
St George's Day and Shakespeare Anniversary. 
To celebrate these one of our Friends, David Gower, declaimed the Speech before the Battle of Agincourt from Shakespeare's Henry V.  It was really dramatic!  David was 'The King' and in costume too!
......And gentlemen in England now a-bed Shall think themselves  accursed they were not here ..... upon St Crispin's Day!

This short celebration was followed by
The Hermitage Ensemble of St PetersburgHermitage Ensemble at St Neots
Listen to a short sample of their music:
 Hermitage Ensemble mp3

This was a concert by an ensemble of professional singers in the Russian tradition. The 'soundscape' was quite new to us & very exciting. They sang music from the Russian Orthodox Church and then Russian folk songs in including a very vigorous performance of 'Kalinka', and ending  with an Elvis Presley number!  What amazing voices! 

Our Annual General Meeting was on 25th May 2016  
This covered our second full year up to 31st March 2016. We talked about our fund-raising efforts and about the work on the church roof which was then just starting and to which The Friends have promised financial support. We also agreed to fund a Friends bench-seat in the churchyard and this should be installed this summer. Our trustees were re-elected and our audited accounts were approved.
We succeeded in raising £5751 from
donations, membership subscriptions and fund-raising events in the past year. Members were happy with how the Friends organisation is developing.

We have already raised over £12,000 and we have contributed to repairs of part of the church roof.

3rd October 2015
Concert by The Military Wives Choir of Wyton and Brampton RAF base and by Rachel Godsill with Marie-Noelle Kendall (accompanist)
his was a great concert!
The Military Wives choir really entertained us with their confident and moving singing. Rachel Godsill is an amazing singer and Marie-Noelle Kendall showed great musical skill in her accompaniments.

The church building dates from about 1500 and is of great architectural value (Grade 1 Listed). It is a big open church and a great venue for concerts, exhibitions etc.   Although it does not have major structural problems, it needs a steady programme of repairs. It is over 500 years old! The need to use conservation techniques means that even small repairs are very expensive.  It has an active and friendly congregation but their  resources are not enough to do everything.  So the building needs help.

We need  your help.   Here's why:  a few examples of recently completed restoration work and some new challenges we face. So far we have donated £6000 towards repairs and we have bought and installed a new bench in the churchyard so that you can sit and admire the tower.

Completed July-August 2016:  Lifting lead on a modest area of the roof of the north aisle and replacing the under-lying wooden boards which had rotted. It proved that the medieval roof beams and trusses were all sound and needed no repair. New lead (made by re-casting the old lead) was laid and improved flashing inserted to complete the water-proofing - about £30,000 . Completed autumn 2016.

Completed January 2017: The lead roofing of the south porch had some problems: water had got in and damp was affecting the stone wall beneath. As with the north aisle roof, the wooden roof boards had to be replaced which meant lifting and replacing the lead and the lead rain-water guttering.  Cost about £20,000.

Completed 2012-13:
Re-building of a single stained glass window  £16800 - the windows are of high quality and date from the mid-late 19th century. So as the windows have passed their 150th birthdays they need repairs. A number of them have been re-built in the last few years -

Completed 2013: Minor repairs to stonework and pointing on the roof of the chancel plus some minor lead repairs £8088.
Completed 2016:  New church heating system (gas-fired, blown hot air) £10,500.
Work just started (May 2016) A potentially serious problem on the roof has been discovered. There is an area where the roof boards, under the lead, seem to have decayed and lost strength. It is about 2 metres wide and 8 metres long. This area is bouncy and it ought not to be! Our contractor has lifted some lead roof-covering to see what the problem is.   Costs of the repair are guessed at somewhere around £38,000. The work should be finished by the end of June 2016.  The church won a grant of £20,400 from the government Listed Places of Worship urgent roof repair fund.
Repair of a single stained glass window - about £12500 - removed in July 2015 and rebuilt. Back home now. Looks as good as new.
We get no subsidy from UK government and we pay VAT (sales tax) on all our purchases except repairs to the historic building itself.
Please join us or make a donation
Bruce Elam (Chairman);  John Sinfield (Hon Treasurer); Peter Raggatt (Hon Secretary)

Application Form for membership & Gift Aid form
St Neots Parish Church website

The Choral Scholars of Kings College Chapel in their concert in St Neots Parish Church
15th November 2014.  We heard superb singing by these young voices and we raised £3559

Kingsmen singing in SNPC Nov 2014
They sang pieces ranging from Orlando Lassus to the Beach Boys with fantastic precision and vocal range.
They have amazing voices and we had an audience of about 250 to hear them. We also heard some excellent organ-
playing from Organ Scholar Doug Tang.  The Kingsmen website           Listen to the Kingsmen on youtube          The Kingmen's new CD