Saving Doğanköy Church
By Margaret Sheard…….
In the village of Doğanköy in Northern Cyprus there is a beautiful old church which the villagers are desperately trying to preserve not only for the present community but also for future generations.
It is so important for the heritage of Northern Cyprus to preserve this and other ancient buildings and there are dedicated people who are working hard to try and achieve this but it is not an easy task when large sums of money are needed to ensure that the building does not deteriorate beyond help. The church in Doğanköy is so pretty and has stood the test of time. The dome was built in the 11th or 12th century with the addition of a nave in probably the 15th or 16th century and a bell tower being added during the early 20th century, but like all ancient monuments unless they are maintained they will eventually crumble and decay. It is hoped that this will not be the fate of Doğanköy Church.
Efforts to repair and preserve it began in 2004 with monies raised by the village and with the help and leadership of the Mukhtar, Halil Anıldı. Help and support was also given by the Girne Belediyesi Mayor, Mr. Sümer Aygın. Thanks and appreciation were also given to the former President, Mehmet Ali Talat and his good offices for their help and support of this project.
Since then the committee in Doğanköy has been successful in raising small amounts of money with various events including art and photographic exhibitions at the church, coffee mornings and also wedding blessings which can also be held in this wonderful setting.
The church grounds are interesting and glazed pot-shards have been found and are now seen inside the church. A marble pillar base was also found here and may have come from the ruins of Salamis and this is now displayed together with gravestones. When the grounds were cleared during refurbishment all graves were found to have been emptied prior to 1974. Graves of English sailors buried here in the churchyard in 1882 were reported by both George Jeffrey and Rupert Gunnis (1936) another writer of history, but no trace of these graves were found in the 1970s.
An interesting custom reported by Gunnis is that when a local child was suffering from malaria they were carried three times round the church and then rolled back and forth in front of the west door.
On 18th December 2013, a pre-Christmas lunch was arranged at Al Shaheen Restaurant in Karakum and around 55 people attended to give support to the restoration program for the church. There was a splendid turkey lunch which was enjoyed by everyone and a raffle with the prizes in Christmas wrapping to add to the festive occasion. The proceeds from this event have boosted the church funds by 740TL which was a marvellous amount and greatly appreciated by the organisers.
Al Shaheen looked very festive with a Christmas tree and decorations and a lovely welcoming log fire. Imtiaz had only returned from a visit to Pakistan late on the previous evening but he was there greeting the guests in his usual friendly way. There were some familiar faces at the lunch and also a chance to meet some new people. Our table was shared by a couple we had not met before and we had a lovely time chatting and getting to know each other.
Speaking to Paula Shirley later in the afternoon she gave me some facts about the work which is required to bring the church to an acceptable standard and it is obvious that a great deal of money is needed to achieve this. An arrangement has been made to replace the wooden doors at a cost of 1500TL and there are funds available for this to be done but the main area of concern is the roof which needs a great deal of work carrying out to make the building weather-proof. Cracks are appearing in the roof and rain is starting to seep into the building which will quickly cause more problems if it is not attended to as soon as possible. The cost of putting the roof into good order again is 8000TL. A proposal has been made to Vakiflar for the work to be carried out and it is hoped they will offer some help by subsiding the roof repairs which may have to be topped up by the Committee fund raising for any additional amount required.
Another issue which Paula advised me about is the fact that there is no electricity to the church although there is a mains supply as far as the boundary area. All they need is for this to be extended to the church and a meter fitted. Wouldn’t it be marvellous if a generous donor would give them a New Year present for the work to be done, what a wonderful gesture this would be.
If anyone would like to hold an event at Doğanköy Church or maybe have a wedding blessing contact committee members – Paula Shirley on 0533 830 3256 or Incilay Fell on 0533 869 4462 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The pre-Christmas lunch was an excellent idea for people to get together and at the same time show their support for the preservation of the church. There are so many worthy causes that need the support of people on the island and this is yet another, this being in the name of Heritage.