The challenge is to bring St Lawrence’s Church into the 21st Century without destroying what has been described as ‘Hungerford’s Jewel in the Crown.’ Please take this journey with us!
Did you know that the counter installed in the porch is recording an average of 50 people coming into church every day? That’s a staggering 18,000 a year! You only have to look through the Visitors’ Book to see what people most appreciate about this unique building, situated as it is on the edge of the Kennet and Avon Canal, the Croft and the Marsh, in an area of outstanding natural beauty. As well as our stained glass windows, visitors always mention the peace and presence of the Almighty, making it easy to pray.
But the building is 200 years old and what was suitable in 1816 is not always suitable today. We need a place where babies, toddlers and children can play safely; we need better kitchen facilities; more storage; more space for serving the popular hot Monday lunches; room for clergy and choir and visiting choirs to robe; an even floor surface that does not cause a trip hazard; better heating; better audio system – and so it goes on!
The good news is that your vicar and P.C.C. are aware of all this and intend to do something about it. Rest assured that we will not be vandalising the church. Our vision is to reorder the west end, the back of the building. Of course, we won’t be able to satisfy everyone’s wants but if we reach 80%, how well we will have done!
So, on 20th May, a group representing all the people who use the church for services and other events met at St. Cassian’s Centre for the day to thrash this out as a first step on the journey. We had a very productive day and have come away with sheets of suggestions to give to the architect. It is our brief to provide the What? and hers to provide the How.
We are very excited about the architect we have chosen to undertake this mammoth task. She is Camilla Finlay, B Arch (Hons) Dip Arch, Director of Acanthus Clews Architects and Cathedral Architect to Exeter Cathedral and Surveyor of the Fabric of Worcester Cathedral,
Before our meeting, we had individually filled out a questionnaire and given marks to several sections, establishing whether our church is a millstone or a springboard. When our scores were added together, we found that we had a very high mark for Welcoming (we hope you think we are welcoming, a large plus being that the church is kept open all day) but we allocated very low marks to Flexibility and Serviceable (kitchen, toilets, storage).
Then we split into groups to consider the needs from every point of view – the young people, who of course are the church of tomorrow; parish lunches; Mothers’ Union; Admin. office; Friends of St Lawrence’s ; Sunday worship; choir; vestry and flower arranging. We then gathered to discuss all aspects and placed orange stickers against those suggestions that we felt were most vital.
Have Your Say
This is a project for all – and we sincerely mean ‘all’. We want to hear the thoughts of everyone who has an interest in St Lawrence’s. Do please speak to Mike or any member of the P.C.C. (whose photo’s are on the board inside the entrance door) if you would like an input or look up their contact details here.
Work is not expected to start for at least another eighteen months while plans and permissions are sought. Fortunately, we have funds to make a start, due to a generous legacy left by Gwynneth Bullock and the proceeds from the sale of St. Mary’s church at Newtown, and we will be applying for grants from every possible source. As none of this money can be used for running costs, we still need your help in keeping the church alive and well on a daily basis.