2013 was the year of renovation and restoration work at St Mary’s and Advent Sunday was a celebration not only of the start of Advent but also of the completion of the 10 months work at the church. We were delighted to welcome members of Goodwick Community Brass Band and to have the chance to look back with thankfulness and on to what the future may hold for St Mary’s.
Although costing nearly £150,000 the renovation project was not big compared with some, but it is has made the biggest impact for 100 years on the internal appearance of St Mary’s.
For many years there had been a problem with damp in the South Wall of the church resulting in rotten plaster work, peeling paint and other signs of damp on the inside of the building. To effectively deal with this, the outside of the wall needed to be re-pointed and the stonework mended so that no more rain came in from outside. The inside was then faced with lime plaster and repainted.
We also took the opportunity to make a ‘phase 1’ improvement to the heating (a new boiler and fan convectors); created a south aisle space which is more user-friendly; made the font more prominent, and freed up some space in the north-west corner where we found rotten flooring. The pews that were removed from the south side were reused in an imaginative arrangement of seating and panelling along the wall, leaving a flexible space alongside the central phalanx of pews.
Already that new space has been used for displays as part of the town’s autumn festival, for the brass band playing at the celebration service, for the school’s remembrance service, for church meetings, for wheel chair users who can now sit alongside those who sit in pews and for the creation of props for the Christmas services. As a church that wants to engage more and more with the community of Fishguard we feel that the new space increases our ability to do so. St Mary’s is also open every day for those who want to pray or simply to enjoy the beauty and peace of the building. The new paint and attractive woodwork set off the stained glass and make the church more welcoming. As one visitor said ‘This place feels loved’.
The project has been a team effort, co-ordinated by a great planning team but involving many church members. We are grateful to them all and to those who provided the funding: Heritage Lottery Fund; Churches Trust; The Church in Wales, a legacy from Glenda Gibbon and funds raised by our church members.
The local builder whose team used so much skill and imagination to create the new spaces in our church said this,
‘The history of the drive and enthusiasm for building churches to a very high standard left a legacy of a brilliantly well-built St Mary’s that, with your endeavours, has gained a further lease of life by creating inside a drier, warmer, and more useful area for worshipping and socialising. Just a better space to be in. I must thank you for letting us be a part of the history and future of the church.’