Following your coverage last week of the new exhibition and hospitality space in St Cuthbert’s Church, I invite all readers and residents in Amble to visit as soon as the current phase of the project is complete at the end of February 2015.
St Cuthbert’s Parochial Church Council developed a vision in 2013 for making the back of the church building both more flexible and more welcoming, while maintaining the existing appearance and feel of most of the space used for worship.
Like all living churches, St Cuthbert’s has evolved steadily since it was built in 1870 in order to serve the needs of a changing world; the choir screen dates from the early 20th century and the choir pews from the 1940s, while a number of pews were removed to make more space at the front in the 1970s.
We have continued this tradition with a project that enables us to welcome a wider range of people to a wider range of events in the church.
The newly-opened space at the back of the church allows us to re-create the former fixed seating when required using movable chairs, but at other times we are able to stage exhibitions (such as the one celebrating the Lindisfarne Gospels and our patron saint, St Cuthbert, in the summer of 2014), hold Bible study and other courses, offer hospitality after services and, crucially, to enable people with impaired mobility to get in and out of church and to attend it with ease and dignity.
Later in the spring of 2015, we will be building a sloping access path to avoid the steps at the main entrance, which will further improve access for those with wheelchairs or scooters, as well as those using prams or buggies. This will be particularly appreciated by many who attend the Christenings we hold at least twice a month.
The layout of the building has helped us to achieve all this without changing the appearance or the feel of three-quarters of this well-loved church.
Now that the trial period is over, all who attend or visit St Cuthbert’s will soon be able to appreciate the finished scheme with the level and carpeted floor of our new space, furnished and decorated to complement our historic building.
Come and see!