The Parochial Church Council (PCC) has been keen to encourage the use of the church for wider community events. The church hosts a few concerts a year and an annual Snowdrop Weekend to showcase the churchyard, which draws large numbers of visitors from across the area. Other events have included Strawberry Teas and various photographic and art exhibitions. The significant Saxon remains also means history and architectural groups are keen to visit.
But, like many Churches, St Peter’s is facing some significant challenges. No matter how committed the congregation, it will not be possible to ensure the Church stays open without some broader changes. The Church needs to serve as a place of worship but also as a hub for wider activity across the whole of the local community. It is proving increasingly difficult to do either without the presence of some key facilities on site. Even the most basic hospitality for services and for community events is a logistical challenge and access to toilets non-existent unless hired in.
So, the proposal is to install a toilet, which will be fully accessible; and kitchen area with foldaway units. By removing some of the pews and repositioning the font, this will maximise the available area, but minimise the permanent impact on floor space, ensuring flexibility in the day-to-day operation of the church.
Permanent, on-site facilities, will enable both services and external events to run much more smoothly and attract more attendees. But, in addition, this work will result in the Church becoming more attractive as a site for larger number of activities across the community and in the process help to secure it’s long term future. These are likely to include the use of the Church as:
• A rehearsal space for a local choir who are interested in the excellent acoustic qualities the Church has
• An additional local community market – a market is held monthly at the shared Village Hall, but this is some 3 miles from the village. We would complement that arrangement with a more locally accessed service
• An exhibition space for the various existing local craft businesses based in the village
• A potential location for a sculpture trail in the churchyard
• A venue for a wide range of local meetings
In addition, there are some urgent repairs needed to ensure the continued operation of the building. Successive Quinquennial reviews have highlighted the growing level of urgent maintenance work in the Church and amongst the category A priority work, we have identified a critical element. This involves replacing the existing drains and installing French drains to the perimeter walls. Without this, the main fabric of the Church would be at risk of further damage by water and its use in the long term become potentially restricted.
So, completion of this work will enable the Church to continue to function as a place of worship and become a centre for increased local activity. In the process, it will ensure the longer term continuation of St Peter’s by creating a regular source of recurring income, helping to fund the further maintenance of the church.
To help make that happen, the PCC has begun fundraising and is working through a series of grant applications to charitable bodies. Covid-19 has severely restricted the funding available from some organisations and so now, more than ever, we need to find new ways to secure additional sources of income.
For regular donations, we are promoting the use of standing orders. In addition, though, we felt we needed to explore other options, especially given the trend (particularly following the Covid pandemic) towards the reduced use of cash payments. Cash will always be welcome, and for some will continue to be their preferred method of giving. But for those increasing numbers who choose not to use it, we have turned to digital giving, and the DONATE platform. This will enable us to receive donations via our website and via SMS text.
Your help in supporting our work will make a real difference and ensure that St Peter’s church remains a vital part of the local community for the next millennium. To make a donation, please visit our home page and follow the links.