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 are 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 substantial improvements that should have 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 have been under discussion for about 20 years, and it is wonderful to be able to implement them now.
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)
- new community meeting space, kitchen & toilets within church (Phase 1B)
- 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. Now we are worshipping in Western Church School Hall.
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, HCC Community Buildings Capital Fund, the Congregational & General Charitable Trust, the Hobson Charity and Hampshire and the Islands Historic Churches Trust, we have been able to begin building works.
We are proceeding with the main core of the project – do click on the flickr album photo to view a whole set of photos showing the wonderful progress that is being made! But as the cost of the build has risen significantly since our quantity surveyor made his 2018 estimates for us, we have created a flexible contract. This defers some elements, such as the division of the new gallery to create a unique, high-quality meeting room, which we will be able to reinstate if we raise extra funds. If you would like to donate, please contact the parish office, 01962 844878, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Building for Life is supported by a specific prayer team and the following prayer underpins 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.
It has been another productive week on site, although the Covid-19 regulations understandably make work slower. Your ongoing prayers are requested for the good health of everyone involved and for availability of materials and specialist workers.
- more good progress on the flooring: the insulation is complete and oak boarding is now being laid in the north aisle; the stone-laying between the nave pillars continues and, most importantly, the keystone from which all the other stones will be laid has been positioned in the middle of the nave
- radiators have been installed by the windows in the new gallery meeting room (nice and deep, so very tempting to sit on!)
- electrical work has continued on the new distribution boards
- the chancel is full of scaffolding – high-level smoke alarms are being fitted and the decorators have begun the preparatory work; some high-level re-plastering is likely to be needed