St Paul’s is privileged to have a superb location near the railway station in Winchester, a lively and diverse congregation and an extensive community programme. We have been keen to conserve the best of what we have but also to extend and significantly improve our facilities to serve the area as well as we can.
We did major housekeeping work at the St Paul’s site in phased stages between 2009 and 2016. This included re-tiling and insulating the church and hall roofs plus car park and entrance work and boiler replacements. Since then we have been able to plan and carry out substantial improvements that have had a significant effect on the beauty and safety of the church and on the quality of what we can offer the community – for spiritual and secular groups alike. Some of these ideas were under discussion for about 20 years, and it is wonderful to have been able to implement them.
In simple terms, Building for Life at St Paul’s involves:
- re-flooring to create a safe, single-level floor; underfloor heating; internal re-ordering; new chapel (Phase 1A), now completed
- new community meeting space, kitchen & toilets within church (Phase 1B), now completed
- community facilities: purpose-built pre-school, office spaces, staff flats, kitchen (Phases 2 & 3)
Our project architect is Antony Feltham-King of St Ann’s Gate, Salisbury.
On 2 September 2019 all members of the PCC voted unanimously to sign a contract enabling the Building for Life project at St Paul’s to go ahead. The last Sunday in St Paul’s was a celebration of Harvest on 6 October. Until the following March we met for worship in Western Church School Hall, and from September 2020 we were back in the renewed St Paul’s for 9.30 services.
The anticipated project cost of the internal re-ordering and new facilities within St Paul’s was £850,000, plus a contingency of £60,000, and on 9 July 2017 we launched an appeal within our church communities with the hope of raising just over half of the sum from our own worshippers. The response was stupendous. We’re really grateful to everyone who showed their commitment by legacies, generous pledges, donations and some wonderful match-funding.
From February 2018 we worked on the second strand of our appeal, with a team of volunteers approaching grant-making trusts that have a remit to support building projects in churches or to reach out to the local community, as Building for Life seeks to do.
In March 2018 we received the Building for Life Easter gift we’d been hoping for. The Church of England has its own planning permission process for internal changes to churches. After much very careful work by our architect and the team at St Paul’s we got a Faculty – the permission we needed. And in May 2018 we were granted planning permission by Winchester City Council – so all necessary permissions were then in place. We are grateful to everyone who made this possible, including all who prayed.
A third strand of our appeal involved contacting our wider community and businesses across Winchester attuned to our aims and willing to contribute to our project. This included a variety of wonderful fund-raising initiatives, including imaginative ‘Friends’ events and our annual Community Day.
Our architect and the parish delivery team worked very creatively to draw up a contract within our budget, but following negotiations the costs for all the key components of the project were some £100,000 more than the £850,000 we had originally budgeted for.
A second congregational appeal was launched in July 2019. Several very generous pledges from grant funders, along with donations in that appeal, meant that the total raised topped £900,000, a truly amazing achievement!
The point reached was the culmination of at least ten years of really careful work and much consultation. Having considered all the factors, the PCC were very clear that this was the right time to go ahead. In New Testament Greek there are two words for time. There’s chronos, from which we get ‘chronological’ – a way of measuring time: seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries. And then there’s kairos, which has a slightly different sense. It means a season, a time in history, the right time, a time of opportunity.
Thanks to a remarkable level of giving from our congregations, support from the local community, grant funding – from the Tillaid Charitable Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation, Ladies of the Grail, the Beatrice Laing Trust, Allchurches Trust and the Rank Foundation – and pledges from organisations including Biffa Award, Hampshire County Council, the Congregational & General Charitable Trust, the Hobson Charity and Hampshire and the Islands Historic Churches Trust, we were able to begin building works.
We initially proceeded with the main core of the project – do click on the flickr album photo to view a whole set of photos! But as the cost of the build had risen significantly since our quantity surveyor made his 2018 estimates for us, we created a flexible contract. This deferred some elements, such as the division of the new gallery to create a unique, high-quality meeting room, which we were later able to reinstate when we raised extra funds.
Building for Life was supported by a specific prayer team and the following prayer underpinned all our development work.
God our Father,
we give you thanks for all the blessings
you are showing us in our churches,
school and wider community.
We ask that through your Holy Spirit
you will bless our efforts
as we see through the first stage
of our Building for Life journey.
Open our hearts and minds
as we take these next steps
and so enable us to continually grow
as a community of believers. Amen.