St Mary's Church, Development Phase I
Charity No. 1128975

Newsletter – 10th August 2010



After years of planning, meetings and discussions the construction stage of the Refurbishment Project is finally underway the contractors having started the main construction phase on the 29th July last. The elapsed time is stated as thirteen weeks – which takes us to the end of October 2010 providing that there are no unforeseen difficulties.


The church was closed for all services from the 3rd May 2010. This meant that we had to find alternative churches for the number of weddings already booked for the summer months. All the weddings have been rebooked for the same dates with a slight change to the timing of one or two weddings. We are most grateful to our friends at the alternative churches and also for the understanding and flexibility of the wedding couples and their families.

Church services at St. Mary's are being held in the Church Hall whilst the church is being refurbished.

The church was completely stripped of all furnishings by volunteers during the month of May 2010. The pews have all been sold – some to members of the congregation and others to members of the local community. The Choir Stalls have also been sold to a private owner.

The historic Manor Stalls have been retained and will be re-positioned at the entrance to the chancel.

As stated in the March Newsletter, the Street pulpit will be removed from its present position and rebuilt against a column next to the chancel.

Church Organ

The old organ was advertised for sale and eventually went to a French Organ Builder. He and a colleague, together with church volunteers, spent a long Saturday dismantling the organ and carefully storing the parts in their removal van. It is understood that the organ will be lovingly rebuilt and restored to working condition for installing in a French Church. We are sure that the organ will provide French audiences with years of wonderful music.

The order for a new electronic organ has been placed with Hugh Benton, The Organ Workshop, Cheshire, at a cost of £22,279. A deposit has been placed. The organ furniture will be in light oak.

Contract for Refurbishment

Up to seven contractors were invited to tender for the refurbishment. Three tenders were received. The architect discussed the detail of the lowest tender from Norman Wright Portsmouth Ltd. A number of items were clarified and the cost of some items reduced. Two significant items were cancelled at a considerable saving – these were the audio/visual facility and the spiral staircase into the tower.

This reduced the final figure for the tender to £298,325.25 zero-rated for VAT.

Following some discussion, the PCC meeting on the 13th July 2010 approved the Norman Wright tender at the above figure.

The above cost will be covered from existing funds, a significant legacy, and interest free pledges. A Diocesan Loan may also be negotiated should this be necessary.

Consultancy Fees

Consultancy fees will be due to the Architect and the Mechanical & Electrical consultancy. We would also require a Health & Safety Co-ordinator, but Alan Hoad has volunteered to take on this responsibility because of his previous business experience. Alan will waive the fee.


A two-step dais, roughly circular in shape, will be built under the tower. This will contain the nave altar, priest chairs, lectern, etc., and can also be used for any future concerts held in the church.


The font, standing at the west end of the north aisle, will be re-positioned on a central west/east axis. The current font will be re-positioned.


Chairs: – 15 sample chairs were obtained and these were on display in the Church Hall. Members of the congregation at the 8:00am and 10:30am services had the opportunity to try each chair and to state their preference. The majority chose the Irish Contract chair. Following a PCC meeting on the 18th July 2010 approving the purchase of these chairs, a formal letter has been written to the supplier for 150 chairs, including 25 with arms, built from ash and stained in light oak, at a cost of approximately £22,000 including VAT. The chairs are expected to be ready by the end of October 2010.

It is proposed to have a scheme for members of the congregation to purchase individual chairs in memory of loved ones.

Members also voted for the Bistro Alpha chairs. These will be used to provide additional seating for services or concerts with larger audiences. The PCC will be requested to approve the purchase of a 150 Bistro chairs at a cost of approximately £5,800 including VAT.

Altar & Priest Chairs – the design of the nave altar and priest chairs is under consideration.

Storage and other furniture for the church – still to be decided.

Refurbishment Project

The contractor planned to access the church building through the West Door from the field to the rear of the church, but this has not proved to be possible. Instead the access will be from Church Road.

The contractor will take the following actions:

  • –  The path from the Lych Gate to the South Door and around to the West Door will be closed to pedestrians
  • –  Notices have been displayed to warn adults and children that access to the church path will be blocked. Access to the churchyard will be via a pathway opposite the Church Hall or via the public footpath.
  • –  Approximately 12ft of the front fence & beech hedge to the left of the Lych Gate (as viewed from Church Road) will be removed. Reinstated on completion of the project.
  • –  The water point will be repositioned away from the Lych Gate.
  • –  Cut down to ground level the two box bushes from near the Lych Gate to provide access for contractor‘s machinery. It is understood that the two bushes should recover once the project has been completed. Cuttings have also taken cuttings to ensure that the link with Jumièges Abbey is maintained.
  • –  Boarding brought in to protect the path and memorial slabs from the Lych Gate around to the West Door.
  • –  Steel protective fencing to be installed on either side of the Path.
  • –  Temporary buildings to be erected outside the West Door for contractor‘s offices, etc.

Only authorised personnel will be allowed access to the church building during the refurbishment.


The Vicar, the PCC, and members of the congregation are delighted that the refurbishment of the St. Mary‘s Priory Church has started. It has been a long and painful journey, but it has been necessary to consult with as wide an audience as possible. We are most grateful for the advice of the church architect together with the heating and electrical engineer. Members of the DAC have also been very supportive whilst we developed our thoughts and ideas.

We look forward to a warm and comfortable church brought up to modern standards whilst retaining the dignity of this proud and ancient building, used not only for church services but also by the wider community.

Latest Refurbishment News

Read about bats and skeletons here


Revd. Paul Ginever

   1st August 2010