The Friends of St. John's (FOSJ)
‘Even a broken clock is right twice a day’: proverb
The old clock on the tower of St John’s certainly isn’t broken but following refurbishment by famous clock makers, Smiths of Derby, it will go on telling the time for many years, as it has for centuries.
The Friends of St John’s launched in 2018 to raise funds for the repair and improvement of the church and John Pearson Hall, both centres of the community. Alresford is a busy town, lots going on… what could we offer that would be a bit different? What about a Community Cinema? (Not entirely new, though; there had been The Civic in Station Road until the 1960s but that is long ago).
Another venerable building, the Community Centre, has provided the venue for our monthly fundraising programme of film nights. Thanks to our patrons (who have enjoyed some great films, with drinks and nibbles, and met up with friends), to a wonderful team of volunteers and for many donations, over £8000 has been raised. It would have been more but, like so many things, our events were sadly interrupted by Covid-19 and our last show was in 2020.
We wanted the funds to go to something visible, memorable and long-lasting, so they will be put to cleaning and re-facing the clock. Paid for by public donations, the clock has been the town’s timepiece since the early 19th century. Hurrying storekeepers and hostellers, anxious to open on time, could glance up – just as we still do – and do a quick check, then adjust their own (often inaccurate) pocket watches and, from the early 20th century, wrist watches.
Being a listed building (Grade II*, meaning a building ‘… of more than special interest’), required special permission (a ‘faculty’) to be granted by the diocese. The work is to be completed in situ, hence the need for scaffolding to access the dial rather than remove it: too large and weighty! Over a couple of weeks, after cleaning, paint is applied in layers (goldleaf on the numerals), allowed to dry and harden before the next coat, protecting its longevity. Good weather is needed, so fingers crossed!
Then we hope to re-open our film nights on 19th October. Hope to see you then, when we can start fundraising again for our next project, as well as providing a welcome evening out for local people.
Jan Field, Chairman, Friends of St John’s
Common heritage: common asset
An introduction to the Friends of St John’s
This non-religious association was set up in 2018 to promote the community value of the parish church of St John the Baptist, New Alresford, the adjoining John Pearson Hall and churchyard, and to maintain and improve them. It is for people of all faiths or none, who are interested in preserving and improving it as a centre piece of the town and for historical and heritage reasons, as well as its spiritual significance.
Why does St John’s need a Friends association?
The current church dates to the late 19th century; some parts are older. Not surprisingly, it needs occasional repairs - some minor, some major – and ongoing improvement.
The good news is that St John’s is valued by the community, whether church-goers or not. It ceremonially marks local families’ passage through life, and moments of national celebration and remembrance.
Together with the John Pearson Hall and surrounding church yard, St John’s can host artistic, cultural and social events, as well as providing a tranquil haven for quiet contemplation. Indeed, in medieval times, churches were often used for community activities, so this is not so very ‘new’ after all
So, the Friends have two primary aims:
1. To promote St John’s as a community space for use by the town’s residents and many visitors.
2. To raise funds for the repair and improvement of the structure of the church, John Pearson Hall, and the churchyard, and so maintain them for the future.
All proceeds go projects such as re-facing the clock on the tower in 2021.
We have set up the Alresford Community Cinema showing the latest Box Office films & occasional ‘oldies’: a giant screen, high quality sound, and you can enjoy a glass of wine and free nibbles! For details of latest screenings, visit: www.alresfordcommunitycinema.com
Future plans also include literary, performance and visual arts
Donations & Membership
Our events are open to everyone but FoSJ is also a membership organisation and is registered with the HMRC to receive Gift Aid.
Single member £12pa
Joint members £20pa
Founder lifetime member – min. one-off payment £200
Corporate membership - contact us.
For further information about the Friends and/or to request a membership form, our address is Friends of St John’s, Alresford, c/o Benefice Office of St John’s, West Street, SO24 9AG or contact:
Chairman: Jan Field email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Treasurer: David Boddy email: email@example.com
Annie Saunders: email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Irene Spencer: email: email@example.com