St Chad’s Church has a long and interesting history including rebuilds, extensions, restorations and repairs. It is the intention of the Church Council to sustain church life, preserve our heritage, and continue the use of this historic building. Our modern life expects new standards in all public buildings including churches. Providing this for our church building requires permission from many heritage authorities.
Disabled access in the church porch has been provided. In 1998 we relayed the outside path to remove the step into the porch and provided a small wooden ramp into the church. Disabled access is across Church Square avoiding the long slope of the path up from the mere-side gate. In 2019 a plan to provide safety rails at the chancel steps was found to be not compatible with heritage considerations.
A sound system has been installed to improve audibility. Updates are being researched. A loop system for the use of those with hearing aids has been fitted. New lighting has been installed updates with more energy efficient bulbs are being considered. After many difficulties and alarms a warm church can be ensured. Heating became an emergency in 2013 and local giving raised £14,000 to provide a new heating unit and forced convection heaters. In 2014 the heating system failed permanently and a further £30,000 was raised to replace the whole system. A second heating unit and renewal of all fittings and pipe work was completed in 2015.
The most urgent need in recent years has been to prevent rain leaking through the church roof. Without a rainproof roof it is pointless to make other changes. There was an urgent need to prevent damage to the carved ceilings by renewing the nave and aisle roofs. The 1892 limestone tiles of the nave roof and the lead of the roof on the side aisles had deteriorated and were sustained only by temporary repairs. In 2006 the nave roof was renewed with limestone tiles. Progress was delayed by lead thefts in 2011 and the subsequent provision of a modern alarm system. In 2016 the aisle roofs were renewed with new lead above new heat and sound insulation. Generous local donations, sustained fund raising, and very welcome grants raised a quarter of a million pound to complete this.
There have been other repairs both small and large before and since. The provision of modern kitchen facilities and of high-quality toilet utilities has several times been set back by other crises.
Large exhibitions, fairs, choir concerts, weddings and funerals regularly pack this church. People travel from afar for such events and expect to find toilet facilities. Visitors to concerts expect refreshments to be offered in the interval. Exhibitions need the opportunity for people to sit and chat over tea and cakes. It is accepted now that church services should end with sharing a cup of tea or coffee together. We can only extend the use of this building in new and imaginative ways to the community if we install modern facilities. As well as the toilets and kitchen provision, the addition of a small meeting place able to be separately heated would be useful to us and other organisations in the community.
The Church Committee continue to consult on how to provide such facilities. In 2018 a luxury mobile toilet was placed outside the north door. It has proved suitable and reduced the urgency of the need to provide permanent facilities of a high quality. The need for kitchen facilities and extra space remains.
One plan, now abandoned, was to provide an extension where the boiler house now stands. The plan being worked on in 2019 was to restore the ringing floor in the tower. This floor was not replaced after the 1889 fire, and ringers have rung from the ground floor for 130 years since then. The extra-long ropes to the bells 62ft above require some rather ugly iron guides. The long ropes are more difficult to handle and increase the dangers always present in bell ringing. There is also some danger as access to the ground floor cannot be restricted. With a new comfortable ringing floor, the ground floor space would become available for other things. All that remains is to raise the funds.
Unfortunately the pandemic brought a halt to all development although the plan is still active.
Entered 3rd October 2012, last updated 16th August 2021 by Bill Barlow