The Church has already adapted to meet changing needs, with the installation of a disabled toilet and ramps, and a kitchenette at the back of the church. The lower vestry now doubles as the parish office, and the upper vestry contains storage for the Romanian Orthodox parish which now shares the church. A booking secretary has been appointed to help co-ordinate our many lettings. The installation of CCTV allows the church to be open during the day for tourists and those seeking tranquility.
Since our launch, the Friends have been actively involved in raising money for such improvements. We contributed to the upgrade of the sound system, and have bought a laptop, screen and projector that allow us to hold talks and film nights. We have bought a new oven for the lower vestry. We have also sought professional guidance on the restoration and conservation of the church’s precious textiles and commissioned a lighting survey. Professional fundraising consultation has advised us to be more ambitious in our applications for grants from major trusts and foundations.
Planning for the futureWe now have sufficient funds to engage an architect, and to commission a feasibility study for larger improvements. We have chosen Nigel Walter of Archangel, who is already the parish architect and has a wealth of experience working with churches. The feasibility study is an essential first step if we are to secure the grant funding that will enable us to achieve our aims, and will cost £3,000 plus VAT, which the Friends will cover. Future investment in St Giles’, as a result of this process, would also be funded by the Friends or via grants they have received. Our constitution allows us to fund any improvements, maintenance and installations that is not directly related to worship or liturgical practice.
Some projects have been integral to our proposals from the outset, most especially:Replacing the lighting, incorporating the plans that have already been drawn up by HSE Lighting and Electrical. This will give us low-cost, flexible and sympathetic lighting for our many evening services and bookings.
Replacing the gas-powered heating (which is noisy, expensive, and obsolete), most likely with underfloor heating. This would provide constant low heat where it is needed, but it would require changes to the flooring to work to greatest effect.The removal of the wall heaters also frees up space for fitted cupboards, which could be distributed around the perimeter or gathered in a central block. This would provide storage opportunities for the two congregations and other church users, allowing us to hide away unused chairs, tables, fridges, and sound equipment. Leaflets, books and display items could be presented in attractive, purpose-built cases. The aesthetic presentation of the building could thus be enhanced.
Going further The architect writes, ‘taken together, the above … would transform the building and make it suitable for the sorts of wider use you are hoping to encourage.’ Improvements to lighting, heating and storage would form the first phase of any building project.
But he also asks us to consider a range of other potential projects at this stage, even if we do not wish to pursue them immediately. This is so that the work on heating, lighting and storage can be made compatible with future plans. The possibilities are almost endless, but include:
Installing a dais (a raised platform coming out from the sanctuary) now that the nave altar is established as the main liturgical focus. This could double as a stage area for concerts, and a ramp could be incorporated to allow step free access to the chancel.
Installing glazed screens around the lady chapel so that it could be used as a separate worship or prayer space while other activities are going on in the nave. An accessible entrance could be provided through the existing porch. An outside ramp to the chapel would require planning permission.
More radically, creating a ‘west room’ at the back of the church with a gallery above. For example, the wooden Comper screen at the back of the church could be brought forward with a room created behind. Natural light would enter by unblocking the tower door to create a doorway or window. The area could also contain additional toilets, an improved kitchen and/or storage.
Explore links with the Museum of Cambridge and Kettle’s Yard to create a ‘heritage quarter’, with signage in the garden and other visual elements to tempt visitors to cross Chesterton Lane.
Over to you…You may have your own ideas, which we would love to hear at this stage, no matter how fanciful they may appear! Of course, none of this work can go ahead without the full approval of the District Church Council, Parochial Church Council, Diocese of Ely, and (in some cases) City Council, so nothing is set in stone. Our aim, at this stage, is simply to give the architect sufficient detail of our hopes and aims to complete the feasibility study.
Please click 'next' to go to the form that includes specific points for comment. Please complete this by 15th November 2017. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
With best wishes,
John Mueller Geoff Dumbreck Ank RigelsfordChair Treasurer Secretary
Registered Charity No1168770