There has been a Christian presence in Whittington village since the 9th century. Our church was built in 1842-44, is Grade II listed, and replaced an ancient medieval wooden building. The church is small with no ancillary rooms apart from a tiny vestry (added in 1890). It is a fine example of the period between early English and Victorian styles. Little had altered until the late 1990’s when a sympathetic reordering was undertaken. However, we had no water supply or toilet, making it difficult to have any social or community activity so important in church and community life. Hence in 2002 a portacabin (The Jubilee Room) was built with temporary limited planning permission granted by Wychavon District Council. Planning permission has now expired and the portacabin must be replaced with a permanent building.
The Jubilee Room has served us well but our situation has changed. The population the church serves has increased enormously. We now find ourselves as a small rural church serving a large urban community with none of the facilities that an urban church can offer in space, and ancillary rooms. Almost 1,000 dwellings have already been built with several thousand more under construction and planned. For over a decade we have sought ways of replacing the portacabin. As the church is in a Conservation Area we are keen to provide a permanent building of good quality, traditional design compatible with church architecture and that of adjacent dwellings and easily accessible from the church, which is a place of welcome for people of all ages and backgrounds, regardless of whether they come to church. At last we have the dual requirement of Local Authority Planning Permission and a Faculty.
The main objective is to ensure the church is able to face the future.
- The Jubilee Room has been invaluable allowing us to expand our activities. However, its size (6 x 3 metres) was insufficient. The church has been used for Yew Brew coffee mornings or Open Church every Saturday, Christmas bazaars, concerts and fundraising events but all these activities are limited by space. The current vestry is too small for the occasions when a number of Clergy attend special occasions. The Elizabethan Room will be on the same site as the Jubilee Room and extending to 7 x 4 metres, constructed of traditional materials. A planning permission condition is that the bricks used should match the wall of the neighbouring house (also Grade II listed). These bricks will have to be handmade adding several thousand pounds to the building costs.
It will provide:
- an accessible Equality Act toilet,
- meeting room to seat 12 people
- kitchen facilities
Numerous benefits will be realised from the Elizabethan Room and especially
- Children’s activities on a Sunday and after school.
- The local Church of England Primary School already has a termly service and each year- group has a workshop in church during the academic year run by volunteers and teaching staff. The extra space provided will ease the cramped conditions available in church on these occasions.
- Health and well-being groups.
- Social provision for young and old, a quiet space for reflection and the enjoyment of heritage and the natural surroundings.
- PCC and church committee meetings.
- The provision of adequate space for storage: at the moment such space is very limited.
A Ground Radar Survey has already been completed and any archaeological issues will be investigated by the local authority’s archaeologist. Care will be taken to protect the roots of the two yew trees nearby. Wherever possible sustainable products will be used and construction will be such to reduce energy consumption and hence our carbon footprint. A bat box will be installed in the roof.
A careful assessment has been made of the costs of this project which amount to £155,000. We have received generous contributions from the congregation and fund raising events and are most grateful for grants from the National Lotteries Community Fund, Garfield Weston Foundation, and Lasletts Charities. Other applications are pending.
Most importantly we are stewards of God’s precious gifts and responsible for ensuring that the 1200 years’ Christian presence in Whittington is handed on to those who come after us. For St Philip & St James to remain sustainable, grow and flourish in the 21st Century, the planned building is vital.