Christ Church is an open, friendly church and we are delighted to keep our doors open every day of the week. The 420 pupils of the local primary school use the church for their end of term services, concerts, carol services and festivals. Teachers often use the church as a teaching space, and Open the Book and Collective Worship run by the church is a regular part of the school week. We also run a toddler group and a weekday morning coffee group. But while we have full disabled access and hearing induction loop, as a Victorian building, we don't have a toilet (having to rely on the use of toilets in the nearby Mount Pleasant Centre) and the only sink is in the vestry. Following open meetings and consultations with the local community and having obtained the relevant permissions from the Diocese of Salisbury, we have been fund raising for these renovations so we can offer the church building as a community space with opportunities for use by local groups. The work has been split into two projects, Discover Christ Church! and Future for Christ Church.
Discover Christ Church! aims to become a thriving community hub for the people of Bradford on Avon that is fit for the 21st century. We are celebrating as work will start soon, having successfully raised the funds needed for this community project to explore, restore and celebrate the heritage of this fine Victorian landmark building. So a big thank you to The National Lottery Heritage Fund for a grant of £239,761, together with generous contributions, donations and grants from the Bradford on Avon Preservation Trust and the Pilgrim Trust/Church Care, our community and Parochial Church Council, our own fund-raising events and members of our congregation. Bradford on Avon Town Council has awarded a £2,000 Environment Grant award towards improving the biodiversity of the churchyard. And huge thanks to all of Christ Church’s School’s Year 5 pupils whose ideas underpinned our application. We are pleased to announce that the Community Outreach Officer and Project Coordinator for the Discover Christ Church! project are due to start on 17 April 2023.
This is an 18-month programme of inter-generational and inclusive community activities co-designed with young people. # Restoring, regilding and restarting our landmark spire clock. # Conserving & cleaning the nave walls and rare wall paintings (those at the east end were restored in 2000-2001, but our three archangels at the west end are somewhat grubby and ill-lit). # New energy efficient lighting. # Repairs to the spire and tower. # And biodiversity enhancements to the churchyard.
Work starts in April 2023 and is planned to be completed in early 2025, with ‘Open House’ throughout – welcoming people in for community activities, events and celebrations as well as to see the restoration works in action. The ‘Open House’ will be both in the church and online and will enable people to see the restoration works in action wherever they are. There will be exciting opportunities for people of all ages to become involved in community activities inspired by the heritage of Christ Church and the restoration of its landmark steeple clock and rare wall paintings restored to their former glory, and to find out about the new energy efficient lighting and how it works. Outside, young people will survey the churchyard and design and make improvements to benefit both wildlife and the many passers-by who walk through the churchyard every day.
Future for Christ Church. This project will see toilets (including an accessible one), a kitchen, an office and storage space at the rear of the nave, with flexible open spaces for community use between these areas and the pews. We are also getting the necessary permissions in place for the repair work to the bells and bell tower. This work is part funded from proceeds from the sale of our parish rooms, which were no longer health & safety compliant, and required substantial repair and redecoration too. In addition we have raised a substantial amount through local effort, but inevitably some estimated costs have gone up, so we still need to raise around £150,000 to carry out the work in full.
The parable of the talents has inspired the congregation to be creative in using their talent over the past two years. Sales of homemade marmalade, jams and chutneys (they sell out very quickly), a range of greetings cards, knitted scarves and packets of flower seeds have all proved popular and added to our total. The Ark Toddler Group parents are very supportive and keen to see the improvements to Christ Church go ahead. Their January coffee morning and bring and buy sale raised £320.00. This was a great success and an enjoyable morning. Our Crib Scene Christmas Cards made a profit of £81 after printing costs. The leaflets that were sent out with the Parish Christmas Cards will have helped raise awareness of our projects and have so far raise raised about £650.00. There is also a lot of hard work going on applying for grants.
We celebrated the Coronation on Monday 08 May with a community fun day. While the plant stall stayed outside under a gazebo and attracted passers by, the rest of the stalls, games, teas and a raffle went inside the church, where brave soft toys took the Teddy Zip Wire from the tower room to the end of the central aisle. And we raised just over £1,000 towards the toilets and kitchen.
Can you help?
Donations of any size would help us reach our target sooner. So if you know Christ Church, maybe were baptised or married here, attended Sunday School or got to know us through our close links with the school, could you please consider helping our efforts by donating via our Give A Little campaign.