In December 2010, the Parish Church in Cirencester Market Place was wrapped up in a plastic covering whilst it underwent some renovations.
It was actually a rather attractively designed wrapping, featuring some architectural drawings and a copy of a medieval painting.
During the last few months, in the bitter cold and horrible wet weather conditions, work has been going on behind that screen and people in the town have become used to seeing the screen and scaffolding rather than the beautiful church facade.
Yesterday morning, on my way to the hairdressers, I walked into the Market Place as usual and joined a collective gasp as the plastic wrappings were removed, the scaffolding taken down and the most exquisite restoration was revealed.
Beautiful. There in the sunshine, after months of work, the end result was slowly appearing. People really were standing to gaze up, smiling and commenting to one another about how wonderful it was to have the church back there again, looking so lovely.
It’s not often one witnesses such a collective pride here. In fact, I think we tend to take such architectural treasures for granted. English parish churches are part of our everyday landscape and most of us drive past them every day without giving them as much as a second thought. Yet here in Cirencester, yesterday morning, there was a real sense of joy. The sun was shining, Spring might be around the corner and the beauty of the Parish Church has been restored.
There was even a string or two of bunting.