Last service at St Paul’s before transformation

On 6 October 2019 St Paul’s celebrated its last service before closing its doors for refurbishment. The annual Harvest Festival was the last ceremony at the church for up to a year.

A successful £850,000 fund-raising appeal means that building work has now begun to modernise and transform the church into an even better community facility for the area. The rector, Canon Peter Seal, told a packed congregation, ‘We are putting the church to bed as we move into the all-important construction stage of our Building for Life programme. From next week we will be worshipping at 9.30 am every Sunday at Western, our church school. It is therefore very appropriate that the children are with us today for Harvest Festival. The children will sing us out of this building as we prepare to move into theirs.’

Plastic sheeting around the organ was a reminder that change was already underway. Floorboards have since been lifted for repurposing and Fareham-based building company Amiri Construction has arrived on site to do the work.

The last service ended with a prayer that the congregation would return ‘stronger in faith, stronger together and ready to build new life and ministry in this place’.

As some of the congregation left, a sizable team of people stayed on and began moving some 300 chairs into spare garages. Roof spaces were cleared and re-filled with Bibles, hymn books, kitchen equipment and altar linen.

Building work at the church is expected to last up to a year. The newly refurbished church will have new kitchen facilities, accessible toilets, underfloor heating and mezzanine community meeting space.

Canon Peter said, ‘We welcome everyone in this vibrant part of Winchester to join with us in this new part of our faith journey.

‘During the building work, all regular weekday activities will continue to take place on the site. The hugely popular pre-school will continue to meet every morning and dance classes will carry on as usual. Changes over the next year will inevitably bring new challenges, but we are looking forward to building ever closer links with our church school.’

Chair of governors at Western Primary School Vicki Tibbitts said, ‘As a Church of England school we already enjoy a very close relationship with St Paul’s and we hope to build on this over the coming year. St Paul’s is an amazingly friendly community and we are delighted to be hosting their weekly service.’