The Vicar, writing as Chair of the Parochial Church Council, shares the latest news
The year ahead will feature two, if not three, major projects at St Mary’s related to the fabric of the building and the churchyard. The two we are confident will take place during the year are internal to the building; the one with some uncertainty about timings concerns the moorings.
The Church lighting is poor and will be completely replaced in the coming year (save for the chandelier). The plans we have made, through a highly-talented lighting consultant will see all the lighting replaced with LED lights, providing a much more cost-effective lighting system and one which will produce far less heat. The designs, which have been out to public consultation and through the various heritage bodies, are now the subject of a “Faculty”, the ecclesiastical equivalent of planning permission. Apart from one or two small matters which we expect to be resolved by the Faculty process, we are very
hopeful that the entire scheme will be approved in the coming weeks. The project is currently out to tender.
Redecoration & Improvements to the Fabric
It is now twenty years since the church was redecorated and the building needs a little ‘tlc’. We are currently seeking a Faculty to do several things:
To redecorate the church, porches and vestries in the existing colours;
• To shorten the three pews between the central columns (at the ends closest to the road and the river) to permit wheelchair user space. To install pew-length cushions in royal blue fabric for greater comfort;
• To sand and reseal the floor;
• To install a bespoke servery/kitchen area in the south-west corner of the church
(i.e. in the area which is currently a ‘storage’ area) to provide facilities for the serving of light refreshments.
A proposal was also in the plans to place three ‘folding leaf’ tables along the wall of the south aisle, to provide some fixed furniture for the use of serving food and for those who find it hard to stand. However, this proposal has fallen foul of all the heritage bodies, who have objected to them, and has not commanded the support of the Diocesan Advisory Committee; as a result we have withdrawn the proposal and will need to look at this issue in some other way. All these proposals will be open to public consultation in early January and is currently out to consultation with various heritage bodies. We anticipate the Faculty will be granted before Easter.
We are planning to undertake the work relating to lighting and kitchen improvements in mid-summer, probably as soon as Thomas’s Kindergarten finish for the summer. There will be some necessary phasing of the work, and at some point scaffolding will be erected in church. Alternative plans will be made for weekday worship although Sunday worship will not be affected, apart from temporary lighting solutions and the usual disruption associated with building works. We anticipate the greatest level of disruption will be during the autumn term, but wish to seek the works completed in their entirety by the end of November.
Plans for all these items can be found in church or by enquiry through the parish office.
Although things may have appeared to have gone quiet on the mooring scheme, significant steps have been taking place in the background. Following the granting of a permanent injunction against the trespassing vessel, its owner and occupants by the Courts in the Spring, the PCC has now done all it can to facilitate the removal of Landrail. With such an injunction in place, however, we were able to alert the Port of London Authority (PLA) to the absence of access via the churchyard. The PLA has, after a lengthy and unsuccessful period of appeal by the barge owner to the Department for Transport, refused to grant a Licence for the vessel to moor in the river. As a result, Landrail is now trespassing on the river bed itself, and we are told that the PLA have instructed solicitors to act to take the next steps towards resolving the matter, which we believe will – probably through the courts – see the eventual removal of Landrail, either voluntarily or by enforcement. As we enter 2019, therefore, it is not entirely clear how long this process will take. What does seem clear now is that the matter of the beginning of the mooring project is a matter of ‘when’, not ‘if’. We will need to await to see whether this will be in the current calendar year or into early 2020. That is a
matter dependent on the owner, the PLA and the courts. We just must be patient now.
We hope this will be useful information for readers of St Mary’s Newsletter. Sometimes we need to give a season to significant expenditure on our historic building and its setting. Fortunately, the funds are available for all three elements of the work.