As we reported here back in January (please see here), prayers were offered around the diocese for the community of High Toynton, following the collapse of the tower at the church of St John the Baptist.

Since that dramatic event, and as Alison Bell writes, various activities have been ongoing in the village with a view to the past, present and future...

‘After the dramatic collapse of our church tower mid-morning on Sunday, 19th January 2020, High Toynton parishioners were left footing a £32,000 bill for making the rest of the church safe. This included scaffolding and 10' corrugated iron hoardings that enclose a large part of the churchyard. This sum was miraculously raised within a month, partly through public donations and partly through loans from villagers.

However, that covers barely a tenth of what we will need to find in order to rebuild. The challenge is to find some way that the resurrected church will fulfil a definite niche in the community that will ensure it is needed and used for many years to come. Only with this clear vision, will our grant applications be successful.

High Toynton is one of 13 'Doubly Thankful Villages' in Britain, where all the men returned from both World Wars. It has therefore been suggested that we set up a hub for local social history in the newly refurbished building, which can act as a visitor attraction and a historical resource. Already a paper is being researched comparing the impact that all the men returning has had on our village, as opposed to Low Toynton a mile away, where all the men died and the church is now in ruins.

With the onset of COVID-19, a few people had more time on their hands and so a creative plan was hatched to paint 8x4' boards to hang on the scaffolding to depict a timeline of village history from the medieval church (first mentioned in 1231), the Georgian church of 1772, the impact of Enclosures (1770), the Victorian church (1872), all the men returning from First and Second World Wars, the wildflower churchyard and finally... the collapse.

The paintings are by four people in this tiny village and also one friend in Horncastle, and so they are creative offerings rather than anything professional. The aim is to demonstrate the identity of this small community and the historical foundations that it stands upon while opening the way for its potential focus.’

This story was originally published on 14th July 2020. Further updates will be posted as they become available. In the meantime, more information on the church, including a link to a JustGiving appeal, may be found here.