The story so far
An initiative called the Cornerstone Project was set up in 2008 by the Parochial Church Council (PCC) to coordinate a series of building related initiatives in support of our Mission. The largest part of the programme was the creation of the Church Centre at No 28 Hightown, opposite the south door of the church, completed in 2010.
The Cornerstone Project was formally closed in 2014, and the Restoration Project, concentrating on the Church building, was set up at the same time.
The church is a lovely Grade 2* mediaeval building and the PCC is very aware of its historical importance, its value to the Middlewich community and its responsibility to maintain it. It has always been at the centre of the community and many people in the town consider it to be ‘their church’ even if they are not regular members of the congregation. After about 700 years of regular use, the building is in need of a significant amount of care and maintenance, and would also benefit from internal redevelopment to make the facilities more appropriate for the twenty first century congregation and the local community. The Restoration Project has the aim of preparing the church for use by future generations of Middlewich people.
The project has two aims, the first being to conserve the building by making repairs and improvements to the fabric so that it remains structurally sound and an attractive part of Middlewich’s heritage in the decades to come. The second aim is to improve the facilities within the building so that it can serve the church and community better.
It is necessary to integrate the conservation work with the provision of facilities in the building so a phased approach has been adopted. The project is split into five phases:
Phase 1 Conservation: Roof, gutters, rainwater goods, high level stonework – North Aisle
Phase 2 Conservation and Facilities: Restoration and relocation of the Venables Screens; Provision of kitchenette, toilet, mains drainage and storage
Phase 3 Facilities: Accessibility improvements, provision of moveable seating; improvement of heating, lighting, audio visual facilities, storage and electrical distribution; improvements to main access door
Phase 4 Conservation: Roof, gutters, rainwater goods, high level stonework – South Aisle
Phase 5 Conservation: Lower level exterior stonework and general repairs
Conservation of the Church Fabric
This work can broadly be split into three parts:
Phase 1 -
Scope: Replacement of roof; replacement and reorientation of gutters; replacement and/or restoration of rainwater goods and high level stonework; replacement and restoration of Victorian pinnacles; creation of Heritage Trails inside the Church to improve the accessibility of the heritage aspects of the church to the general public.
Funding: A grant of £234,200 has been obtained from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) against a project cost of about £300,000, and further grants are being applied for.
Progress: Projects sponsored by the HLF are split into development and delivery phases. At the time of writing, September 2016, the development phase has been completed. The delivery phase package has been submitted to HLF, and approval to proceed should be forthcoming by the end of October. The work should be complete by the spring of 2017.
Phases 2 and 3 -
Phase 2 is (March 2016) being developed, and Phase 3 is at the outline stage.
The continuing presence over the coming decades of a vibrant Christian worshipping congregation is considered to be the best guarantee that the Church building will be maintained and developed for the benefit of the Middlewich community. The building is already used for many community events such as civic services, heritage tours, educational trips and concerts and the needs of
the wider community are very much the same as those of the congregation. It is with this in mind that the following developments are proposed.
Apart from where required by electrical and plumbing work, no changes are proposed to the Chancel, Lady Chapel, Vestries or Organ. The proposals elsewhere can be summarised as follows:
Benefits of the Proposed Development
Phases 4 and 5 -
These are (March 2016) at outline stage.
Cost, Control and Consultation
The internal development will cost in the order of £400,000, and the work on the fabric of the building will cost about £800,000. This amount is greatly in excess of the available resources, and raising it will require the exercise of faith and a great deal of prayer and hard work. It is expected that the programme will take about 10 years to complete.
All work to the building is regulated by the Diocese of Chester (Listed Building and Conservation Area issues) and by Cheshire East Council (Planning Permission). No work will be carried out to the building without the necessary permits having been obtained.
The diocesan authorities, statutory bodies, congregation and community will be consulted at various stages of development, and any comments will be gratefully received.