We, at St Bart's, are delighted to say that the contractors have been able to return to work and the interior of the church is now finished. Those who saw the work almost completed at our last service in March, were unanimous in their praise for the difference it had made. All have commented on how big the church now looks; the flexible open space at the West end has great potential; the welcome table is a great addition; the new heating system is very effective and efficient; the panelled walls, which are a return to the Georgian design of the church, look like they have always been there and the replacement of the Victorian pews with Georgian ones, again returning to the original design of the church, look fantastic. We also have improved access to the organ with the space behind it and the big surprise is that the seating capacity has risen by 100 not the originally planned 60. All will have a clear view of the church front and at weddings, the brides family can now watch the service from the front left pew, previously obstructed by the pulpit.
Our only outstanding part of the remodelling is the delivery of the new wooden chairs, which will follow when circumstances allow.
News from the Chancellor at the offices of the Bishop of Chester. St. Bart's have finally been granted "Faculty Approval" (the ecclesiastical equivalent of planning permission) for the planned alterations. The Churchwardens will be meeting with the Church Architect some time in October-November 2019 to finalise the Schedule of Works.
The Diocesan Advisory Committee have now approved the plans and they are ready to pass to the Chancellor for planning permission. Watch this space for detailed plans for the work to proceed this Summer.
The Church Wardens informed the PCC meeting that news of further developments will be available in early May — Watch this Space
The statements of Need and Significance have now been completed and sent to our Architect, John Carter. He will now draw up very detailed plans of the project and send to the DAC (Diocesan Advisory Committee) for them to consider whether to issue a Faculty for the work. As previously stated this is equivalent to approval of a Planning Application.
In the course of their deliberations, the DAC will consult with other interested bodies e.g The Georgian and Victorian Societies and Historic England who may or may not choose to visit and offer their thoughts and any objections.
This next phase could take as little as 6 months or longer according to how the application is viewed, and updates will be given here as regularly as possible.
The go ahead was given by the PCC to make further progress towards the re-ordering of the Church interior, as discussed at the Open Meeting on 18th November (see below).
The next step is for the Church Wardens to provide the Diocesan Advisory Committee with a robust "Statement of Need", giving details of exactly why this development is needed, which will be done imminently. This process is very akin to a Planning Application, and regular updates will be given to our Community.
Plans to re-order the interior furniture of the Church were presented.
There is a usable space problem within the Church, and greater flexibility to enable it to serve the Community more effectively is urgently needed. There is also a trend towards higher Church attendance at non-traditional services, such as Cafe Church and Messy Church. It is hoped that concerts, drama, dance and possibly Mystery Plays will feature in the future using the wonderful acoustics and historical setting of the Building.
The Plan centres around the removal of a number of the box pews across the rear half of the Church, re- siting some of them as choir stalls and utilising the remainder in various ways around the interior of the building. These pews would be replaced with comfortable chairs to give more flexibility, and the Pulpit removed to give greater visibility from all parts of the Church.
There was a very positive response to the Plan from those present, but it was explained that the meeting was only one very important step in a process which could take some time to come to fruition, and further Open meetings will be called to discuss progress.
The Meeting was chaired by Rev Anne and the presentation made by John Headon.
Please see Artists impression of how the Future of your Church interior could look, thanks to Tim Hough