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Old statue 'healed' by city's freemen; Church given PS2,000 towards restoration.

Byline: Neil McKay ? 0191 201 6007 ? neil.mckay@ncjmedia.co.uk

THE patron saint of healing has made a full recovery after undergoing major "surgery" - in an operation funded by the City of Durham Freemen.

The freemen agreed to pay PS2,000 towards the cost of the professional restoration of a crumbling four-foot high statue of St Giles that stands 14 feet above the main entrance of the parish church bearing his name in the city's Gilesgate.

The well-known parish church of St Giles, a Grade I listed building, is this year celebrating the 900th anniversary of its consecration in June, 1112.

The statue of the saint, a 7th century hermit in southern France, was erected in 1876. At the end of the Second World War it was given a coating of a plastic-type paint in a bid to help protect it from the ravages of time.

Before his latest overhaul, to be completed this week, the war-time paint was removed and the missing parts of his mitre and facial features restored. A missing stone crosier is to be replaced with a wooden one and two colourful coats of arms alongside have also been returned to their former glory.

The Vicar of St Giles, the Rev Canon Dr Alan Bartlett said the statue was one of the most visible features of the church.

"The church is a familiar landmark and I hope people passing by get a buzz out of seeing the restored figure and the sense of life and welcome it communicates. We are very grateful to the freemen, the statue's face-lift is one of the central themes of our celebrations," he added.

During the past seven years the freemen's eight craft guilds, whose own historic trade and commercial links are believed to stretch back to the early 14th century, have donated PS80,000 to a range of causes across the city's boundaries.

The chairman of the freemen's wardens, John Heslop, said: "Today's freemen represent the legions of skilled working people who were a vital part of the fabric and evolution of the city over nearly 700 years. Today, not least through our charitable giving, the legacy of those craft and trade guilds remains very much a work in progress."

The restoration is being carried out by expert Annie Holdsworth from Wolsingham, Weardale.

CAPTION(S):

PATRON SAINT OF HEALING Restoration expert Annie Holdsworth at work on the scaffolding at the Grade I listed St Giles' Church in Gilesgate, Durham. The statue of St Giles was erected in 1876 and its restoration has included providing missing parts of its mitre and facial features

ANNIVERSARY YEAR Restoration expert Annie Holdsworth at St Giles' Church in Gilesgate, which is celebrating the 900th year of its consecration
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 17, 2012
Words:454
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