A 1,000 year old church re-opens its doors!

07 SEP 2020

Allchurches Trust has supported the vital renovation of Leatherhead Parish Church with a grant of £20,000, creating an accessible, open space for the whole community.

In 2019, Leatherhead Parish Church was forced to close for vital refurbishment, after the floors were deemed hazardous and unfit for use. This was a difficult time for the church, who then had to cancel or relocate eagerly anticipated seasonal events, including the Children’s Christingle and Christmas Crib service. 
 
Although the doors were closed, the church recognised the improvements were necessary and the community looked forward to re-opening in Spring 2020. But no one foresaw the pandemic that would stall plans, as the UK ground to a virtual halt.
 
Lockdown came just as the major renovation project at St Mary and St Nicholas Church in Leatherhead was coming to fruition. Only very recently have the contractors and craftspeople been allowed back on site to complete the last few jobs.
 
However, good things come to those that wait… the transformation within the church is breath-taking! Respectful of the medieval architecture and Victorian re-ordering in the Upper Chancel, the remodelling has created a spacious, warm and welcoming environment, which will undoubtedly be enjoyed by the whole community, as soon as it is safe to do so. 
The new coffee area
For the time being, the church is only open on Sundays for one stripped back worship service at 10:30am. The first of these was held on Sunday 6th September. Some of the more vulnerable members of the congregation are still joining the virtual online recorded service, but for those who attended in person, it was an emotional return to the building.
 
Jeremy Noles, Head of Grants and Relationships at Allchurches Trust, said: “Although there have been a few obstacles along the way, it is fantastic to hear that Leatherhead Parish Church is open again, to be enjoyed by the community. The new space will allow the church to reach out and support local people who need it more than ever.”
 
The ambitious Making History project to make the church building fit for the 21st century has had to be phased due to the costs involved in raising the money required to renovate a 1,000-year old building to a high standard. With phase one now complete, the project team will focus on generating the funding for the remaining phases to dig a drain to the road, fit out the kitchen and build the toilets. But for now, the church community looks forward to enjoying the amazing space already created.
Rector, Graham Osborne, complete with mask at first service back
Photo credit: Frank Haslam
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