Ayot St Lawrence is one of England’s most beautiful villages. In fact, in 1775 Sir Lionel Lyde decided that the village church inconveniently interrupted the view from his palatial new home. He promptly set about demolishing the village’s Norman church, the partial ruins of which can still be seen today.
This desecration caused uproar and following stern intervention from the Bishops of Lincoln, demolition was halted, sadly not before the roof had been removed. Sir Lionel quickly commissioned the replacement construction of a neo-classical church, designed by Nicholas Revett.
The Palladian-style church is still known locally as the “new church” and stands in a picturesque meadow complete with its Doric columns. Thousands of visitors flock to the village every year to explore the surroundings, visit Shaw’s Corner and admire the village’s two churches.
Unfortunately, as with any grand design, three centuries of ageing mean that its upkeep is a constant commitment. The roof has been replaced, but the plasterwork on the outside now has to be repaired and re-painted and the lead work renovated at a cost of £120,000.
For more than 30 years, the village of Ayot St Lawrence has hosted an annual art show, the proceeds of which have been vital in preserving both the new church and conserving the remains of the ruined church. This year, it is especially important to raise these funds, as almost £30,000 still remains to be raised by Ayot St Lawrence for this project. With the total population of just 120 in Ayot St Lawrence it is a mammoth task. On June 11, 12 and 13 Ayot St Lawrence will host its 37th Art Show in the Palladian church. Local artists will exhibit and sell around 600 works in paintings, drawings, watercolours, oils and pastels. The Ayot St Lawrence Art Show provides a unique opportunity to view a range of local talent in many genres and purchase a piece of art for a very worthwhile cause.
Mark Lumley, Village & Country Homes Manager for John Curtis said: “attending last years festival was a wonderful experience, the standard of artwork on exhibit was very high and some pieces very collectable, so when Penny Berrington, one of the co-organisers approached us asking for our support this year, we did so without hesitation”.
The Ayot St Lawrence Art Festival runs from 10am until 5pm each day. For more details ring 01438 821483.