Hundreds attend St Matthew’s Open Day

320 people poured into the ancient but renewed church of St Matthew’s, Weeke, for a memorable Open Day on 1 April.

Councillor Jane Rutter, the Right Worshipful the Mayor of Winchester, together with her Escort Mr Duncan Rutter, attended the occasion. Before cutting a spectacular celebration cake decorated with the church’s open-cross logo, the Mayor spoke of the wonderful efforts of local people to refurbish and improve St Matthew’s facilities.

The new hospitality area was put to good use throughout the day, with freshly brewed coffee and a willing team of helpers. Eight young guides aged 12 to 13 – five Scouts and three members of sister church St Paul’s – showed visitors around.

The medieval doorway welcomed people to a space that can now be hired for small community meetings. In the month since the church re-opened it has hosted the first of a series of free history talks open to all; the next two take place on 6 and 27 April at 6.30 pm.

An impressive display of heritage information on new signage and 6-foot banners were supplemented by a widescreen rolling photographic display. In the niche next to the altar was a new ‘resurrection crucifix’, hand-carved by retired Bishop John Dennis.

‘I felt I’d walked into somewhere that was thriving and extremely welcoming’, said parish administrator Katy Palacio. ‘The work that has taken place has transformed the inside into somewhere very user-friendly, whilst maintaining the beauty of this lovely church.’