Over several years plans have been discussed to re-order the church to better meet the needs of the community. We are currently seeking a faculty for this work. This article sets out the proposals.
The main access to the church is through the west door, up two steps.
The Church wishes to be welcoming to all and needs to improve the access for people of reduced mobility including those using wheelchairs, those with walking impairments, pushchairs, as well as pall bearers. The existing tarmacadam paths to the south side of the church will be regraded to rise gently to a sandstone platform which will enhance, denote and celebrate the point of entrance to the church.
Whilst conforming with current legislation, the level access more importantly demonstrates that the church is for all, as part of the church’s concern for all members of its parish and congregation.
West end of the church
Foyer under the tower.
A foyer will be created under the tower, by moving the existing screen doors by the west door forward to the east side of the tower (to be in front of the book shelves and cabinet housing the Mothers’ Union banner). This will provide a foyer for greeting people as they enter the church and can also serve as a space for other activities during services, perhaps children’s activities or as a “cry space”. The glazed doors will allow people in the foyer to follow the service.
A new screen door will be provided just inside the west door, glazed top and bottom, so that the west door can be left open during services – allowing people outside to see into the church.
Either side will be cupboards, one of which will be used to store chairs. A ceiling will be provided over this area, with an access hatch should bells require lowering.
The parish tapestry beside the pulpit will be relocated into the foyer on the north wall, which will give it more prominence, and acknowledge the church as being at the heart of the community. The cabinet for the Mothers’ Union banner will be relocated to the nave, being placed on the north wall between two windows.
Flexible seating area at the back of church
The pews at the back of the church (west of the cross aisle) will be removed, and a new floor of oak boards created level with the surrounding tiles. Chairs will provide seating in services, or for other activities (e.g. refreshments, small group activities, etc.). An example of the wood and metal chair is in the church.
Creating a flexible space at the back of the church, will allow us to be more creative and inclusive in our mission, allowing space for coffee mornings, and other activities, which is difficult with the current pews. The open space will also allow people to gather around the font for baptisms.
The pew timbers will be reused to form cupboards, and to create a table which can be used for signing the register during weddings.
A low level kitchen facility will be provided in the south west corner of the nave, with all the units below counter level. The kitchen units will enclose the space and will be fronted in the panelling from the front of the pews at the cross aisle, to blend in with the church furnishings.
Storage space beside the pulpit.
The pews in the north aisle adjacent to the pulpit face inwards (south), and do not have a view of the chancel, being obscured by the pulpit. These are rarely used, and are currently used as a storage area.
These pews will be removed, the platform lowered, and storage cupboards provided using timber from the removed pews.
The parish tapestry is across an arch to the organ, and muffles the sound of the organ, and will be relocated to under the tower. The DAC’s Organ Adviser has advised that this will improve the acoustics of the organ into the nave.
Repairs to windows in the clergy vestry and choir vestry
In the choir vestry some clear leaded lights have been patch repaired many years ago, with plain glass, with imitation lead stuck on. Whilst in the clergy vestry a small area of stained glass at the bottom of the window has cracked, with small pieces missing.
As a faculty would be required to repair these windows, these have been added to this faculty application.
The proposals have received positive comments from the various diocesan advisors, covering architecture, lighting, heating and stained glass. The Victorian Society has been consulted on the proposals, and had no comments on the proposals, although noting the national importance of the church’s architecture.
As the level access is an extension of the built area of the church, planning permission is required, and this has been granted by Warrington Borough Council
The Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) at its meeting on 20th September decided to recommend the faculty for approval. There are further details displayed in church, and until 23rd December representations can be made to the diocese on the proposals.
The church’s stated mission is “Sharing the love of Jesus with all through friendship, prayer and service” and these proposals aim to assist in this.