Saturday, 31 July 2021

Extension will provide meeting place for community groups

THE Church of England granted permission for the annexe last year after approving the relocation of 50 graves.

The project had already been given planning permission by Wokingham Borough Council and the design approved by English Heritage.

The church had originally hoped to start building work in 2016 but the project was delayed as it was obliged to trace the families of the four people buried in this area since 1900, three dating from the Twenties and one from 1985. The remaining headstones are all pre-1900, so the church didn’t have to find the descendants.

Peter Mayes, a member of the parochial church council, said: “The exhumation of human remains is a very sensitive issue and a full team of archaeologists has been working with the groundwork team as each foundation pad has been opened.

“Many skeletons have been uncovered during this process and a complete record of the work is being built up. All the pads have now been filled with concrete and outstanding work on the drainage system should be completed.”

In the first phase of construction, the shell of the annexe will be built together with facilities such as a disabled toilet.

The building will be then available for “rudimentary” functions such as a Sunday school.

The second phase will be to install the interior, which will take another three or four months and relies on funding being available.

The annexe will be called the St Mary’s Church Centre and will contain two meeting rooms, a café and toilets as well as access to the church via the north porch.

It will provide a meeting place for community groups such as Mill Green Women’s Institute, which currently uses the nearby Hannen Room.

The annexe is the latest stage of the 21st Century Project to modernise the church and make it more appealing and useful to the community. More than £500,000 has so far been raised, leaving another £70,000 to be found for interior work.

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