Church tower reopens after huge refurbishment supported by Dame Judi Dench

The iconic tower at Warwick’s St Mary’s Collegiate Church is reopening for the first time in over a year following a £1.8m restoration.

Extensive repairs have taken place to the stonework, clock faces, pinnacles and 12 heraldic shields at the 160ft tower, which is a landmark visible for some distance.

And with the scaffolding removed it will be open to the public again on Saturday, May 4, for the first time since January 2023.

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New for its return is an historical augmented reality experience created by company Rivr.

Church warden John Luxton said: "It has been a long and difficult journey to get to this point.

"But thanks to the support of local and national organisations, generous donors, and volunteers’ fundraising efforts, we’re delighted to have restored the tower at St Mary’s to its former glory.

“We’re aware how disruptive this has been for people in the town, and we’re grateful to their patience, but I think we can all agree that seeing this iconic tower scaffold-free, with its stonework repaired and its shields glinting in the sunshine, means that all the hardship was worth it." Conservation work took place after a large fundraising appeal backed by celebrities including Dame Judi Dench and a £250,000 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The reopening coincides with the arrival of new vicar Reverend Canon Angus Aagaard at the 900-year-old church.

Through augmented reality visitors have the chance to look at a 3D printed model of St Mary’s looking at the church's history.

Jayne Topham, from Warwick Town Council, who also contributed to the project, said: "As a huge tourist draw for our town, not to mention a landmark with both historic and cultural significance, and massive meaning for our local community, we were delighted to have contributed to this renovation.

"The restoration of it to its former glory is a huge moment for Warwick and we can’t wait to welcome more visitors to the town to see it first-hand."

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