It was a beautiful service of celebration and thanksgiving at St Thomas a Becket Church, Tugby when we joined them for their grand opening on Sunday 4th June following the completion of the extensive tower repairs and internal re-ordering. The Right Reverend Martyn Snow, Bishop of Leicester gave a wonderful sermon of thanks for the changes, which was followed by wine and refreshments.
We had great discussions with the representatives from the Church Buildings Council, the National Churches Trust and Leicestershire Historic Churches Trust about the impact that a good internal reordering can make to a community. In history, church’s had many roles that went beyond religion, so alternative uses are not a new phenomenon!
I am a great advocate of working with churches to help them to make their buildings work for their community, and often small changes like toilet and kitchen facilities with running water can have a huge impact. The subtlety of the changes is what makes this project so successful, the dark pews and timber flooring have been removed from the west end of the church and replaced with ancaster flagstone and flexible seating. The dark timber boarding on the lower part of the wall has been painted a sage green and new lighting has been added which really ‘lifts’ the rear of the church.
Toilet facilities have been added in the base of the tower and a ‘mobile’ welcome desk and kitchen units were added to the west end, painted in sage green to blend in against the painted walls. The sink has a ‘foldable’ tap and an oak worktop closes down over the sink to provide very useable storage. The welcome desk can be moved out when in use or pushed back into a space under the worktop when not in use, therefore creating more flexibility.
Having been to the church service and speaking to a number of people from the local community, we can see how these changes are going to make a real difference to the way that the church will be used and also to how often. In these small rural communities these projects are life changing for the churches and the areas in which they are situated and the people that use them and we wish them every success with their future plans and ideas.