Major £220,000 revamp will create space for music, drama and dance at city church
- Credit: Steve Adams
A city church is due to temporarily close as a £220,000 transformation gets underway to make it more accessible to music, drama and dance.
The development is part of a broader vision of strengthening St Peter Mancroft Church's connections with the arts by offering a flexible and accessible space for a variety of activities.
The scheme will involve the installation of moveable stalls and ramped flooring in the chancel, improving the accessibility and versatility of the space and enabling communion to be received at the altar rail.
An area in the centre of the nave will also be opened up, allowing wheelchair users to sit amongst the congregation.
It is also hoped that a new and improved sound system will enable the church to attract a greater range of events to the venue, while also facilitating a broader scope of worship.
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Interim minister, Ian Bentley, said it was crucial that the church continued to serve the city.
He said: 'This project is a vital part of the developing vision of the church as it seeks to serve the current age. Our building is a beautiful historic building, but it is not a museum. It is a living and breathing part of the mission of Christ to this generation.
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'The changes, together with the beautiful west doors, better sound and heritage offering will add to and enhance Norwich's creative, cultural and spiritual life and strengthen our links with the wider community.'
The church's historic bell tower will also undergo construction work, marking the culmination of the Mancroft Appeal 300.
As part of the development, the Mancroft Ringing Discovery Centre will be built, offering members of the public the chance to learn about bell ringing. To make space for the centre, the ancient ringing room at a higher level of the tower will be restored.
The bell frame will also be strengthened and the tower will be screened from the church, preventing activity in the tower from disturbing those in the church and vice versa.
The church will be closed to worship while the work is taking place. However, barring the first week of construction, the church will remain partially open, allowing access to the quiet chapel and the Book of Remembrance.
The work is expected to take four months and the bell tower developments should be completed within six months.
While closed, St Peter Mancroft's Sunday services will be as follows:
8:00am Book of Common Prayer Holy Communion – Processional Way. Access via the Octagon door.
10:00am Parish Eucharist – Chantry Hall.
6:30pm Choral Evensong – St Stephen's Church, by permission of Revd Canon Madeline Light. This will be most Sundays, but there will be some alternative evening services
Weekday services will continue at their existing time but will take place in the Processional Way.
ICONIC BELLS TO FALL SILENT
Peter Mancroft's bells will stop ringing in January as the Mancroft Appeal 300 reaches its conclusion.
The church tower is the site of the first ever peal ringing in the world, and the project was launched in 2015 to mark the 300th anniversary of this landmark achievement.
More than £400,000 has been raised by ringers in the intervening years, including a £260,200 grant from The Heritage Lottery Fund.
Simon Rudd, project committee chairman, said: 'The works starting in just a few days represent the next and most exciting phase yet in the life of our project.
'The ringers here at St Peter Mancroft, their friends, families and of course the Mancroft church 'family' have worked tirelessly to bring our vision to life.
'This, combined with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, means that during 2018 a real innovation in the way ringing can be shown to the public and new ringers are trained will be a reality.'