What are we planning for our church?
Our church needs a lot of repair. Inside, green netting is placed above the nave because sections of plaster were breaking away from below the roof. Outside, repairs have been done to slipped and broken roof slates over the years, but most of them are now too fragile and the whole roof needs to be fixed.
A survey in January 2015 showed much of the stonework, especially on the roof, needs repair or replacement. The estimated cost of all the work is around £750,000. The work needs to be done as soon as possible, but it needs to be done well.
St Peter’s is on the National Heritage List for England (Grade 2) because of its historical and architectural interest. Augustus Pugin, the famous promoter of the Gothic Revival, designed our church in the 1840s when he was also creating the interiors of the Houses of Parliament.
Our archbishop and the diocesan Historic Churches Committee will expect all the work to make the building as good the original, preferably better, with better insulation. They also require us to have a specialist conservation architect to plan and oversee the work.
How is all this going to be paid for?
The parish still has most of the £900,000 from the sale of the former St Catherine Labouré church. This amount would fully cover the cost of the church repairs, but we would then struggle to pay for the repair and conversion of the Parish Centre, another building with similar problems and also on the National Heritage List.
In March 2015, parishioners were consulted by questionnaire about applying for a £250,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The HLF has to be convinced that when the work is done, many non-parishioners will be attracted to visit the church and appreciate our heritage. Of the 315 parishioners who responded to the questionnaire, the overwhelming majority (223) believed we should apply for the grant, and that visitors should be encouraged and made welcome. Only 59 parishioners disagreed and 33 were uncertain about it.
With this support from parishioners, we applied for the grant. In March 2016, the HLF endorsed the project in principle and approved an initial £43,000 grant to support the preparatory phase. The balance of £207,000 was approved in April 2017, enabling the work to start in May. The parish will still have to meet about £500,000 from its own reserves.
How long is it going to take?
To get the repairs and improvements done well, and with support from the HLF, is taking a long time. The timeline is currently:
Make stage 1 application to HLF (see copy here: HLFApplication1511)
Roof insulation study
HLF Stage 1 approval obtained
Appoint technical consultants for surveys: glazing, asbestos, plaster
Complete surveys and agree plaster renovation methods with Historic England
Consult parishioners about changes needed during and after the works
Obtain diocesan approvals
Prepare work specifications
Obtain approvals for contract documents from HLF and Historic England
Receive and analyse tenders
Full grant application to HLF (see copy here: HLFApplication1702)
HLF approval and permission to start
Appointment of contractor
Parish and contractor’s preparations for works
Repair and refurbishment works – click here for more details
Installation of exhibition fittings and new external welcoming boards
Events to celebrate completion of works
Opening of first exhibition
What about the work needed on the Parish Centre?
The Parish Centre will be needed for weekday Masses while the church roof is being repaired, so any major work will need to be deferred for a later phase. We would like to restore the upper hall in keeping with its splendid hammer-beam roof, designed in 1858 by Augustus Pugin’s son, Edward. This would be an attractive function room for parish events and for hire, particularly if a lift could be installed for those with mobility problems. The lower hall could then be adapted for more flexible use for smaller meetings. New toilet facilities are needed to serve not only Parish Centre activities but also the church congregations. Outline designs have also been prepared for a permanent covered link between the Parish Centre and south door of the church, to make more convenient use of both buildings. These aspirations will need to be approved by our archbishop, Greenwich Council, Historic England, and of course parishioners. The works would need to be phased over several years to keep part of the building available for use throughout. Phasing would also be inevitable to spread the cost into affordable chunks and to allow for fund-raising: the total cost could be around £2 million.
What part can I play in all this?
Think and pray about the mission of the parish, so that all the decisions we have to make about this project will help to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Share your thoughts and questions. If you have worries or questions about what may be happening, or if you have suggestions about things we could do, we would really like to know. When we ask for parishioners’ views on specific points from time to time, please let us know what you think.
Be generous in your giving to the parish, so that the facilities supporting our mission are not too restricted by lack of funds. Currently because of the urgent renovation needs of the church and the parish centre, we are encouraging special donations for these. Please contact Fr Michael if you would like to donate, as he would like to be able to thank you personally.
If this is not convenient for you, you may donate at any time through JustGiving, by clicking on the link below. Please note, though, that JustGiving deducts a transaction fee of 5% from all donations made in this way.
Offer some time and expertise to the parish. If you have knowledge and experience in dealing with building professionals on large projects, please volunteer, or encourage any friend or relative with these gifts to do so. Extra help will also be needed for cleaning, and for moving items between the church and Parish Centre.
Who are the contacts?
The parishioners directly involved in this project are Yemi Asimolowo, Anne Donaldson, Caterina Donnelly, and Simon Heywood. They are all happy to be contacted, at the church or through the parish office, about any concerns, suggestions or offers of help.
Thank you for reading this, and for your support to our parish