Nine-hundred thousand pound 21st century transformation plans for St Mary's Church in Ely unveiled
PUBLISHED: 12:59 27 December 2019 | UPDATED: 12:59 27 December 2019
A church in Ely is getting ready for its biggest transformation yet. Making the interior fit for the 21st century.
St Mary's Church has change a lot over the years since it was built 800 years ago. But nothing has changed on the exterior of the Grade 1-listed building.
The church, in the heart of the city and a stone's throw from Ely Cathedral, was dedicated in the 13th century by Bishop Eustace.
The Victorians embarked on a major refurnishing in 1876, installing fixed wooden pews in keeping with the fashion of the time.
Rev Chris Hill said: "No doubt unintentionally, the fixed furniture locked down this glorious space for a 'Sunday use only' pattern.
"We want to create a flexible, hospitable and inclusive space where everyone will feel welcome, not just for worship, weddings, christenings and confirmations but for many other uses by the community."
The fixed wooden pews will be replaced with seats and improved heating, electrics and audio visual systems will be installed.
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Rev Hill added: "This will enable us to meet the growing demand from the Ely community for our life skills courses - parenting, marriage, relationships, workplace and Alpha - and mental health, bereavement and debt (Christians Against Poverty) counselling.
"We will be able to host events and conferences and become a learning and training resource hub for the villages and market towns in the Ely diocese.
"St Mary's has wonderful acoustics and we visualise a light and airy space for music and the performing arts."
St Mary's Parochial Church Council is reassured that the plan already has the outline support of the Ely Diocesan Advisory Council.
They are now preparing the formal application, seeking full permission to implement the plan which is estimated to cost £900,000, of which £600,000 has already been pledged.
Derek Tye, church warden and leader of the project team, said: "We hope that everyone in Ely will take the opportunity to be part of the plan by sharing ideas on how the transformed building can best serve the needs of the community.
To view the plans and to have your say, visit the website: www.stmarysely.org or the church on February 13 or 15.
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