One of our key values at St Mary’s is to ‘Be relevant for today whilst honouring our history and heritage’.
To fulfil this value our PCC in consultation with the congregations and wider community has been working to restore and reorder our wonderful church. This is going to be a long process but one which we are sure will be worthwhile in enabling us to bless the next generation with a church building that is restored to its former glory, and at the same time able to be used flexibly and encourage a reimagining of the different ways we may meet the needs of those who gather with us and the wider community.
Scroll down to see how we have restored and reimagined since 2016. See our Giving and Stewardship page to see how you can help us financially with our day to day running as well as our various fabric projects.
In 2021 we hope that our longed-for replacement AV system will be installed, but first we have recognised a need to renew the electrics and lighting in the church. All being well, this will happen in early 2021 along with the addition of three lampposts in the Church car park for increased safety during the winter months. Will also be continuing with work linked to the Bells, enabling safer access to the bell frame for maintenance, and a video link to provide monitoring and more focussed training and tuition.
- Lighting and Electrics replacement and lamppost installation – The focus on a new AV system identified a number of outdated electric components and wiring. This will all be replaced and the lighting will be discretely installed at the top of the chancel and nave walls to provide atmospheric and safer lighting coverage.
- New Sound and visuals system – we have been using a portable, temporary sound system for a number of years and this, among other things, has prevented us from leaving the church open as well as struggling to proved adequate sound and visuals for our various services. We are looking to install a modern, discrete and sympathetic sound system with the facility to use visual images too. We are also hopeful to be able to apply to a local fund to help us with the finances for this project. The system will provide extra screens to ensure everyone sitting around the church is able to see what is going on.
- New step and handle in the tower – to facilitate access to the bell frame. This will enable safe access to the Bells for maintenance and routine checks or modifications.
- Permanent CCTV connection with screen for training and monitoring – this will connect the belfry with the ringing chamber, at the back of church and will replace a temporary video system. It will enable people to see the bells in situ for the first time. It will also connect into the main church AV system to further enhance the experience for visitors. This new system will also provide an additional and important tool for the training and development of new ringing recruits complimenting the present computer simulator installation.
We are still looking to complete a number of other projects in the future:
- Tomb Repairs – We have had a site survey of the various chest and wall tombs inside and outside the church. A number of them need significant work to restore them and ensure they are safe. Although technically the responsibility of the families involved it is very difficult to trace families from over 100years ago so we are seeking various funding to help this work.
- Kitchen installation and additional toilet – as our church becomes more flexible and accessible we plan to hold a number of additional events there for the Church family and wider community. Our current kitchen facilities consist of a sink with cold water only and a single toilet. We hope to fully upgrade and enlarge the current kitchen, and to add an additional toilet too.
- Further down the line we would love to restore the ceiling in the nave to the barrel vaulting similar to the chancel, back to how it was before it was dismantled in the 1960’s during an investigation into possible damp ingress.
- A long term aim is to relay the whole floor to make it flat and easier to walk/roll on. We recognise that this is best done after the ceiling and other high works that may need a tower.
We are excited about these different projects as they help to make our church more welcoming, accessible and flexible for our future worship the worship of the next generation. Do speak to us if you have a particular skill in any of the areas mentioned as we always welcome new team members to work alongside us.
During 2020 our major projects made steady progress, and there were two important steps forward:
- Broadband installation – On March 18th we finally got Broadband connected into the church after 12 months of negotiations and faculty applications. This was a week before England entered a National Lockdown due to the Covid 19 Pandemic.
- Livestream services begun – The Broadband arrived just in time to enable us to begin live-streaming directly from the Church on March 22nd 2020. Although we were then locked out of Church for some months and provided livestream services from the Rectory, the Livestream moved back to the Church in July 2020 and has continued each week since then.
During 2019 our focus was mainly on our six Bells, and by the end of the year we had managed to have them overhauled and reinstalled. You can read all about our Bell restoration project on its dedicated page here.
By the end of 2019 we had:
- A New folding fixed ladder for the bell tower – our bell ringing team have become an important asset to our church and there has long been a requirement for a safer access to the ringing chamber in order to fit out the bells for ‘virtual ringing’ or general maintenance. The new ladder will provide this.
- Bell restoration – The six bells were overhauled for the first time in 90 years. The Bell team also took advantage of the bells being out to clean and paint the bell chamber.
- New Choir frontals to match our chairs – a local craftsman completed six new choir frontals that will enable us to create flexible set-ups for the choir during our services and other events. These arrived just in time for Christmas.
By December 2018 we completed a key project to resort the stone around two of our chancel windows.
- Window repairs – these were repairs identified by our 5 yearly inspection and have been granted a faculty. We received a generous donation from the Erskine-Muton fund and also a grant from the Dorset Historic Churches Trust.
We had also begun a major project to overhaul the bells, and were making progress with replacing the Choir frontals with something more in keeping with our new chairs and to add greater flexibility.
December 2017 saw the arrival of our new chairs. we spent 2017 raising money and finding new homes for our pews. We also spent most of the year sitting on folding plastic chairs for our services but at Christmas this all became worthwhile as we saw the new chairs in church and what an impact they have made. Of course our ultimate aim is not to see the chairs because they are all filled with people but for now we are enjoying the flexibility that they are giving us. Find out more here.
November 2016 saw the completion of our electric heating installation. This was a great relief as we had not had heating for 2 years previously. Although it is viewed as a temporary system by the Diocese we are hopeful that it will prove effective and worthy of forming the basis of any longer term heating solution.