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Church from NorthThe appeal of the Friends of St Leonard’s is to everyone who cares for the beauty and traditions of this church building, whether or not they are resident in Hythe. Whilst many members of the regular church congregation have become members, the Friends was specifically set up to enable a much broader range of individuals and businesses to contribute and to have a say in how funds are spent. After all, most people who live in Hythe, work here or visit are concerned to see that we pass on our town and its historic buildings to future generations in the same good condition that we received them from our forebears.

Our heritage and its maintenance

For at least 900 years the people of Hythe have seen St Leonard’s Church standing on the hillside as a symbol of all that is best in their heritage. Successive generations have cared for the church, but there are no large endowments and the cost of maintenance must be met by raising funds locally. St Leonard’s has to be inspected every five years by a diocesan architect who recommends spending that he considers necessary and sets the priorities. The need for repairs may also arise due to the effects of unforeseen events, such as storm damage or earthquakes!

How the Friends help

The Friends of St Leonard’s Church, Hythe, an organisation with charitable status, came into being in 1981 to “promote the care, restoration, preservation, repair, improvement and beautification of the Parish Church and of the fabric, fittings, organ, pianos and other musical instruments, ornaments, furniture, monuments, fixtures, stained glass and documents in the church and belonging to the church”. The Friends is an independent organisation, separate from the Parochial Church Council (PCC) that is legally responsible for the upkeep of
St Leonard’s. The PCC can and does, however, appeal to the Friends for help. The Friends’ Executive Committee, elected at the Annual General Meetings, decides whether we should provide assistance for any particular purpose.

What the Friends do

The Friends of St Leonard’s Church decided from the outset that it would not be just one more body asking for money every twelve months. Instead it would play an active role in the community by arranging a variety of events throughout the year, some in the church itself and others elsewhere in the town. These include concerts of a wide range of types, many of which are given by professional musicians. Special emphasis has been placed on performers from the major London colleges of music. These and other artistic events have led to St Leonard’s establishing a reputation as the prime cultural centre in Hythe. They all help to raise money for the causes supported by the Friends.