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Introduction to the refurbishment proposal of St Aidans Chapel

The following is taken from this morning’s APCCM’s Report by the Vicar, the Revd Nick Wells.

When I arrived at St Cuthbert’s in 2016 a few people mentioned to me that the window at the east end of the St Aidan’s Chapel, depicting the Baptism of Jesus, is one of the finest in the church – could we not make some alterations to make it clearly visible was the request.  I listened and stored their requests.

As I have celebrated at communion on a Friday in the St Aidan’s Chapel over the three years since, I have increasing recognised that the chapel does not really work.  I have to say the Friday congregation is rather special, but the geography of the chapel allows little sense of God’s people gathered around God’s Table.

In that time, I have also discovered that re-arranging the St Aidan’s Chapel has been mentioned on and off for a number of years.  So, following from one of the aims set out and agreed in last year’s Annual Report the PCC have been working with our architect, Stephen Fish, to draw up plans for the North Aisle of the church to be re-ordered.

As our architect considered how this reordering could best be arranged, he further suggested that the church would benefit aesthetically and practically by the introduction of a narthex, something he has recently overseen successfully at St Michael’s, Kirkham.

Stephen presented draft plans for internal alterations to the PCC at the beginning of the year and they include:

  1. The reordering of the St Aidan’s Chapel, including:
    • the removal of the screen behind the altar to reveal the hidden window;
    • the removal of the pews in the chapel and introducing chairs;
    • moving the font from the east to the west end of the chapel;
    • levelling the floor;
    • introducing a bespoke crafted altar and lectern.

The chapel would then have the flexibility to not only be used for communion, Taizé and other patterns of worship, but also be able to host exhibitions, presentations etc.

  1. The glazing of the area under the balcony to create a Narthex which would be able to be separately heated and be used for meetings and social gatherings.
  2. The reordering of the glass doors into church to create a second porch which could house our community fridge and also reduce drafts and cold;
  3. Sealing off the West door to allow the kitchen to be enlarged and provide some much-needed storage;
  4. Refurbishment of the toilets;
  5. Removal of the back pew and part of the front pew to give access around the nave;
  6. And importantly, to shorten four pews up the centre aisle in order to provide space for wheelchairs and prams.

The PCC are also committed to oversee the repointing of the tower which has been highlighted in our Quinquennial Inspection and that we have been anticipating for a few of years and to replace the carpets which are beginning to wear.

The estimated cost of all this work is quoted by a Quantity Surveyor to be £530,000 which does not include the architects fee.

The PCC are now setting this scheme before everyone, congregation and parishioners, for a period of consultation to assist us in deciding how much of the plans we should progress, recognising we would need to raise significant funds if we agreed to progress all the works. We do have enough in our reserves to complete some of this project already.

There is a plaque by the communion rail to the Ven Fosbrooke, former vicar here, who also initiated the establishing of Fosbrooke House.  The plaque includes the legend ‘who did much to beautify this church’.  Every time I read it, I am remined that since the rebuilding of St Cuthbert’s in the 1830’s the building has evolved and been beautified.  Both side aisles have been added, the chancel extended, oak pews introduced, a new vestry added; the magnificent angel fresco painted behind the altar; and more recently work completed to improve access to the Lady Chapel (itself formerly the Chapel of the Resurrection); the magnificent four manual Copeman Hart organ installed and toilets and small kitchen added at the back.

The PCC and I believe this is our opportunity under God to also add to the beauty and purpose of this lovely church building.  To make the place more accessible and more flexible to support our mission in the 21st century.

The plans will be on view in church for the next few weeks and on Saturday mornings myself and others will be around to answer questions and share the vision.  Whatever scheme we eventually decide to progress will require permission from other organisations including the legal permission from the Chancellor of the Blackburn Diocese.

For now, we lay the scheme before you.  I will take any questions of clarification, but there is not the opportunity to discuss further at this meeting.

919.SK.02 proposed plan by Stephen Fish Architect

2019 AGM Slide presentation from the APCCM