Monday, 02 August 2021

Building workon £400,000 church annexe all set to begin

CONSTRUCTION of an annexe at St Mary’s Church in Wargrave could start next year as nearly half the cost has been raised.

The church needs £400,000 to pay for the extension, about half of which will go towards building the shell, including the frame, windows and doors, lighting and power, and the other half on fitting out the interior.

The annexe will contain two meeting rooms, a café and toilets and will have access to the church via the north porch.

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

The design has already been approved by Wokingham Borough Council and English Heritage while the Oxford diocese has given its support in principle.

The annexe is the latest stage of the church’s 21st Century Project to modernise the church and make it more appealing and useful to the community. A total of £150,000 has already been spent on a new sound system, a crèche and improvements to the interior of the church.

The church relaunched its project appeal earlier this year and has since seen the total go from £70,000 to £160,000.

Peter Mayes, a member of the parochial church council, said: “When the appeal reaches £200,000 we will have funds to cover phase one, the shell. We are therefore on the cusp of the construction phase.”

Fund-raising events have included a quiz night and talks from local celebrities such as former ITN news reader Norman Rees.

The appeal will also receive £10 from the sale of each copy of Lost and Found in the Pulpit, the memoirs of former Wargrave vicar Rev John Ratings, who died in December 2014.

In addition, applications have been made to various trust funds.

The borough council approved plans for the annexe subject to conditions including further information on the materials that will be used.

The church council expects its architects to agree these conditions with the council by the end of the year after which it will apply to the Oxford diocese for a faculty, a legal document that will allow the work to go ahead.

Mr Mayes said: “While we keep the diocese appraised of our every action, it is nonetheless possible that further questions might arise.

“However, once the diocesan specialist advisors are content the package is passed to the chancellor, who will sign off on a faculty.

“Once we get the faculty authorising the building work we can go ahead.

“Since the late spring our fund-raising team has been concentrating on applications to trusts in order to get the remaining £240,000 that is needed to complete the 21st Century Project in full.

“We keep our fingers crossed that we will begin to get results in the early months of 2017.”

The annexe will be covered in glass-reinforced concrete panels, while the roof will be made of copper sheets.

The windows and doors will be made from stained European oak and the north- and west-facing meeting rooms will have full-length glass walls to improve the natural lighting.

A memorial garden will be built between the north porch and the annexe.

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