Why the FOTC was formed
Thistleton is a small village in the north of Rutland with just 47 residences and a population of approximately 110. More than a third of the population is aged over 60 years and more than a quarter are children. There are no public facilities at all – no shop, pub or village hall. The only public place where villagers can meet is the church so the building doubles up as a meeting venue.
Like many rural churches, St Nicholas Thistleton had a very small congregation so meeting the running costs and maintaining the fabric of the church presented an enormous challenge. In 2015 the possibility of closing the church was raised but a village consultation revealed that over 90% of responders to a survey said they wanted the church to remain open and 100% said they would like to see greater use of the church as a community facility. So in March 2016 the Friends of Thistleton Church (FOTC) was formed to raise funds, coordinate volunteers to look after the church building and grounds and plan a way forward.
In April 2017 Thistleton merged with the nearby parish of Cottesmore to form a new parish. The church in Thistleton, St Nicholas, is no longer a parish church but became a chapel of ease. This means it remains fully licensed and can hold weddings, baptisms and funerals but no longer holds regular Sunday services. Instead, we have "festival" services at important times in the church and community calendar like Christmas, Easter and Harvest.
The church is wholly funded through FOTC. In addition to raising money for running costs and essential maintenance, we are planning to improve the building as a community space. Our immediate plans are to make minor changes to the interior create a more flexible space and to install central heating so that the building is a comfortable place to meet all year round. We also need to replace the roof in the not too distant future. In the longer term we hope to improve the facilities further by installing a servery and toilet.
We believe that the word “church” does not just refer to a building, it’s about community. By focusing on the maintenance and development of the building we will strengthen our community.
Despite the lack of amenities, we believe that St Nicholas Church is a beautiful small church and want to foster public interest in the building and its heritage. We welcome visitors.