St Mary Magdalene, Brampton
In the early hours of Sunday, 20th November 1994, a member of staff at the Cheshire Home, opposite the church, noticed flames leaping up from the South Aisle roof. Six fire appliances attended the church but extensive damage had been caused by the time the fire was extinguished. The fire had been started against the door in, what was at that time, the open South Porch. A strong wind blew the fire under the door and ignited heavy curtains on the inside. Fire from the curtains set alight the South Aisle roof above the door, from where it spread Westwards. Debris from the burning roof dropped into the pews at the southwest quarter of the nave. A considerable fire resulted and the pews and floor in that area were destroyed along with portable staging stored there, and half of the timber font cover. The intense heat destroyed the Southwest and West windows in the south aisle and caused considerable stone damage in the area, to the extent that one of the pillars had to be rebuilt. Remarkably, although the fire destroyed most of the south aisle roof, the stained glass windows to the east of the door were unaffected by the heat.
Fire had begun to take hold in the nave roof but with the aid of an infra red imaging device the fire brigade were able to locate the danger areas and extinguish them before serious damage occurred. Elsewhere in the church the only other serious damage was to the organ. Heat had melted solder joints allowing the metal organ pipes to fall into the church and glue joints in the wooden pipes sprang open. However the entire building was thick with soot and condensation, a truly devastating sight. The church was unusable, and without a rector, but the churchwardens were determined that the life of the church should continue without significant change. Services were arranged in the village school and the Methodist chapel and a target date of the Patronal Festival, 22nd July 1995, was set in faith for the rededication.
Following the acquisition of detailed quotations and discussions with the insurers and loss adjusters it became clear early in 1995 that restoration was going to cost in excess of £300,000 of which the parish would need to find £43,000. The response from the parish was magnificent and by the end of 1995 in excess of £43,000 had been raised and the appeal closed.
Canon Martin Greenfield was licensed as rector by the Bishop on 28th April 1995, at a service in the village school. Then on Saturday 22nd July the Bishop rededicated the restored church and completed the induction of the rector.
During the restoration some improvements were made. The South Porch was refitted as the main entrance to the church with new external and internal doors and the windows were glazed. The partly destroyed doors were mounted above the doorway in order that their design and decoration could still be seen. The font was moved back from the door to make more space and to place it centrally to the Southwest window and the new seating area. Chairs replaced the destroyed pews so that the area became flexible in its use. Additional floodlighting was provided within the church to overcome previous complaints about poor lighting levels. A new book cupboard and table were constructed from timber recovered from the burnt pews. The organ was completely rebuilt and the organist made a gift of an additional set of pipes (or stop).
In 2005 Pews from the front of the nave were moved to the back to replace those burnt in the fire. The chairs were moved to the front to enable greater flexibilty in the seating arrangement for the various styles of worship required in today's church.