‘Our wedding church looks like a building site’

A couple say their dream wedding blessing has been ruined because scaffolding for renovation work has turned a picturesque church into a building site.

Wednesday, 8th December 2021, 5:30 pm
Updated Sunday, 12th December 2021, 6:42 pm
St Mary Magdalene Church, in the grounds of Stapleford Park Hotel pictured a few days ago with scaffolding to enable essential repair works to take place EMN-210812-101120001

Susan and Robert Forde booked the 18th century St Mary Magdalene Church, in the grounds of Stapleford Park Hotel, four years ago.

They say they spent tens of thousands of pounds on having a blessing ceremony at the church on December 19, a reception for 120 guests and overnight stays there for 30 of them.

But just a few weeks ago they were informed by the hotel that renovation work was being done on the church and that scaffolding would be erected around the 18th century building during their wedding.

Robert and Susan Forde EMN-210812-101131001

Susan (57) told the Melton Times: “I’ve been in tears, on and off, over this.

“It’s like a building site around the church now, it’s shocking.

“It’s an unbelievable situation and to think I’ve got to walk into that on my big day.”

Stapleford Park Hotel say they sympathise with the couple and insist that no aspect of the ceremony or the reception will be impacted by the work.

The church is owned and operated separately by the Churches Conservation Trust, which applied for and was granted funding from the government’s Heritage Stimulus Fund for what is deemed urgent repair works.

Susan and her 61-year-old partner say their requests to have the scaffolding and a corrugated structure around the base of the church taken down for the wedding were refused.

“I’ve been going to Stapleford Park Hotel 25 years for stays and for spa days and I fell in love with the place, which is why I wanted to get married there,” added Susan.

“The footballer Peter Crouch married Abbey Clancy there and you do wonder if they would they have done this to them on their wedding day.”

Stapleford Park general manager, Nathan White, told the Melton Times the couple were informed about the building work six weeks before the wedding and that they offered them alternative arrangements.

He said: “Stapleford Park has been in dialogue with the trust to ensure that there is little to no disruption to business during the essential works programme. “We sympathise greatly with the couple and can confirm that no element of the wedding ceremony or reception has been effected due to the nature of the works to the exterior of the church.

“We have also offered suitable alternative ceremony locations for the couple.

“As the work was deemed as essential emergency repairs, Stapleford Park is pleased that this amazing church is being safeguarded for the future and will allow many more couples to be wed there as well as welcome visitors to the church long into the future.”

A spokesperson for the Churches Conservation Trust told the Melton Times: “We are very sorry for the distress caused by the appearance of scaffolding at the Church of St Mary Magdelene in Stapleford and the impact that this will have on the wedding blessings of the couples involved.

“The Churches Conservation Trust is the national charity caring for historic churches at risk and we have 356 churches across England in our care.

“Sometimes building and conservation work at our churches needs to be carried out at short notice, which was the case at St Mary’s.

“As a charity, we have been fortunate to receive a grant from the Government’s Heritage Stimulus Fund to carry out urgent repair work to the tower pinnacles and parapets of the west tower, which has become heavily fractured due to weather erosion and unstable.

“This funding opportunity is time-limited, and we are obliged to carry out the repair works as soon as possible.”

The spokesperson added: “We were in touch with the Stapleford Estate as soon as we were aware of the works needing to take place at the church to enable them to liaise with the couples and we offered options of rescheduling or refunds.

“However, we realise the huge impact this must have had on the individuals involved and for this, we are very sorry.

“In the meantime, our contractors are doing what they can to make the church as presentable as possible despite the scaffolding.”