The future of one of Wycombe’s most iconic churches is in crisis amid spiralling running costs and a £1.3 million repair work bill.

The landmark St Lawrence’s Church, which overlooks High Wycombe from West Wycombe Hill and has the famous ‘golden ball’ at the top of the tower, has appeared on the silver screen in Bridget Jones’s Baby – but is now facing an uncertain future and could be shut.

The church – along with St Paul’s in the village – is cared for by a Parochial Church Council (PCC), who are local volunteers, but with dwindling pool of individuals to choose from, there are only six people who share responsibility for both churches.

Announcing a public meeting on its future, West Wycombe Churches said on Facebook the PCC no longer feels able to sustain both churches – and they want to focus on St Paul’s instead.

They said the PCC has struggled to keep up with maintenance of the historic church over the years and they “no longer feel able” to support its running.

The church gets no centralised funding, so income comes from individual regular and one-off donations and fundraising, but this has “steadily declined”.

In the last financial year, the church’s regular income was £18,000, but running costs were £26,000.

As a Grade I* listed building. St Lawrence’s also has “significant and ongoing” maintenance and repair costs, and a recent inspection found more than £1.3 million-worth of work is needed but the PCC says there are no funds available to pay for that work.

There will be a public meeting on the future of the church on Monday, October 11, at 6.30pm, and a survey can be printed off from the West Wycombe Churches page asking people what they value about the church and if it would matter to them if it closed.

The Archdeacon of Buckingham, Guy Elsmore, said he hopes the wider community might be able to help them come up with a solution that could save the church from full closure.

He said: “St Lawrence’s, West Wycombe is, without doubt, a wonderful building, a significant landmark and an important part of West Wycombe’s heritage.

“I hope that this survey and the public meeting which will follow later this year will serve to draw out support and interest from the community of West Wycombe and perhaps even further afield.

“It is clear that the Parochial Church Council are no longer able to look after the building but my hope is that interest, expertise and resources from the wider community might now be forthcoming in order that another option, short of full closure, might be achieved in order to preserve St Lawrence’s both for future generations and for the benefit of the public.

“Your interest in and participation in this survey is very important to us and I am grateful for any and all ideas and offers of partnership and support.”

According to the National Trust, the medieval church got a huge redesign in the 18th century by the Dashwood family and work was finished by the mid-1760s.

The tower was raised to make it more visible from afar, and it was crowned with the wooden golden ball that was reputed to be a meeting place for the Hellfire Club.

It could seat up to 10 people, and was described by the author John Wilkes as “the best globe tavern I was ever in”.

You can find out more details about the public meeting and how to take part in the survey, go to