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Draft Statement of Need

From Our Draft Statement of Need

We need a dignified, unifying and workable central focus. Since 1300, the currently cramped nave platform area has been, and is again increasingly, the place where heaven and earth so often meet. In Word and Sacrament, baptism, marriage, funerals and much else, the life-changing promises of God and his peoples are gathered, known and trusted, day after day. Here, it is the space itself which is the focus of unity, more than any specific arrangement.

  1. We need a dignified and useful central altar, a place for the Word and for the many other uses of this space
  2. We have a very varied range of whole-church use, currently more negotiated than mutually complementing.
  3. Over the years, creative and engaging worship and prayer in the South Aisle have grown into the larger space offered by the central area. The removal of the front three rows of pews for Holy Week and Easter 2009 enabled every liturgy to take place in this central space. It was remarkably liberating and challenging. This continued with the experimental removal of front four rows for 15 months from September 2009, an experiment which has enriched and grown many different uses in worship. The layout is unexpectedly valued by families attending funerals and weddings.
  4. The South and North Aisles and the West End are developing as spaces with their own integrity and their own richly varied uses, in hospitality for all ages, displays and interpretation. We want to sustain these while continuing to ensure that these spaces relate fully to the whole building as need requires.
  5. The current seating in the nave is a defining but problematic feature. The pews are Victorian marriages which contain 17th and 18th century timber of interest. They need major repair or replacement. Visually and operationally, they inhibit movement, use and perception of the full heritage and of the building's capacity to welcome and inspire.
  6. Current usage makes a strong case for the font also being in the central space rather than at West End.
  7. Musicians, ministers and congregation need a secure and helpful place which does not inhibit other uses.

To provide all this, we need to:

  1. transform nave platform area into a larger, settled, spacious and dignified focus for liturgy and performance;
  2. order all other uses, access and building services in a holistic and inspiring spatial relationship;
  3. develop lighting, sound and visual schemes to enhance and enable a rich and wide variety of uses;
  4. review all the options for nave seating, informed by expert opinion, to secure well-managed change.

The South Porch

We who are used to coming in and out through the South Porch can underestimate the barrier it presents. Large numbers pass by, day and night. Many visit the churchyard. The growth of Saint Nicolas' Place brings many more. The entrance, in its present form, deters many from entering. The weather-porch and awkward steps often inhibit those who try. Any re-ordering must open up this entrance for all, and be considered alongside a review of all communications and interpretation, so that Christ's invitation and mission are made tangible and real in the form of the building.

We want to make large changes here. We need to:

  1. secure the Lady Chapel (the east end of the South aisle) as an engaging, accessible place for private prayer and reflection.
  2. remove or replace the current weather-porch
  3. examine all access options, from a radical proposal for the lowering of the porch floor and the raising of the nave floor, so that neither step nor ramp are needed, to a more moderate re-ordering of the steps, ramp and welcome area;
  4. examine a change of use and re-ordering of the current baptistry area as an area for hospitality and interpretation;
  5. examine the possibility of bringing main access to the east rather than the west of the current weather-porch, re-using the mediaeval stoup and leading visitors more easily into the prayer space of the South Aisle.

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