All Saints Church restoration
All Saints Church Hillesden, located near Buckingham, received a supportive £250,000 award from the Heritage Lottery Fund for conservation, repair, development and promotion of the historic building. Prior to this, a smaller grant was awarded to All Saints Church from the Buckinghamshire Historic Churches Trust.
An extensive restoration project has been carried out on the church, to result in improved services and facilities for the local community, whilst also restoring the wonderful architecture of the building.
Reverend Ros Roberts, of All Saints Church, told Premier Construction:
“Once we had the grant from the lottery fund the work began in mid-February 2016 and the developments are almost complete.
“There was a small bit of unforeseen work that had to be undertaken as while our stonemasons were repairing bits of stonework on the main church, they discovered a wall that was unstable to the point of being potentially dangerous. This led to some additional costs which we are hoping to cover.”
The main aims of the restoration were to provide a brand new servery area and also an indoor disabled access toilet. As the only public building in the village, the church is used regularly for various social activities and meetings and so the idea was to create a better space for the community to use. With the integration of the new facilities it means the ability to have extra meetings, fundraising events and social events.
Reverend Roberts said:
“Since the developments, the community seems to have adopted a sense of drive and innovation in terms of the activities and programmes they want to take place at the church, which is great! This transformation is all about uniting different programmes into one flexible space. We have council meetings, film nights, and someone has even suggested a knitting group for baby charities in Africa.
“A summer Pimm’s party has also been suggested so that could be a great idea for bringing people together to a summer event, where local people can socialise and enjoy themselves.
“As well as the community, the church is used by the wider general public – children from the school near us come to the church and use it for concerts, music practice and teaching.”
Light and airy, the site provides lots of space for large groups to attend. Interestingly, possible ideas for holding an art exhibition are being considered by the church, in addition to there being other diverse programme ideas in the pipeline.
The church restoration has certainly provided All Saints Church with a marvellous opportunity to open up the church to lots of different groups and individuals, offering a place of comfort and friendliness.
Reverend Roberts added:
“Now that the stonework has been adjusted, we are assured it is a safe place which is important because previously it was unsafe. At one point we had to have scaffolding and tape to limit access for people because we were worried about parts of the masonry falling off.
“I think the new church will give the community a place to meet for their activities and get-togethers, which is great because before now people have had to meet at their houses or in the pub in the next village.
“For me personally, the refurbishment has meant being able to use the church for church uses such as prayer and services, but that is just a small part of it; it’s also about encouraging people to look at the history of the building – it is such a historic building which is fantastic! Going back before the civil war, part of a previous restoration was carried out by the architect Sir George Gilbert Scott who lived locally – so there are a lot of historic aspects of the church that have been brought forth with this project.
“Allowing others to access the facility is important, one of the things we have always wanted to do is to have much more accessibility for education and historical documentation within the church so it gives visitors an enhanced experience of what is going on.
“It is about having a living building at the heart of our community.”