Church begins £500k transformation
THE congregation of Mangotsfield’s St James Church has moved out while the building undergoes a £500,000 transformation.
The church on the corner of St James Street and Cossham Street is set to get new flooring, chairs, disabled access, toilets and a host of other improvements to make it a “comfortable and welcoming” environment ahead of its 800th anniversary celebrations, which start next year.
The work is expected to last six months and in the meantime, worship is taking place at the church hall in Richmond Road.
A campaign is under way to raise the 30% of the building costs that still need to be found. A series of fundraising events are planned and there is a donations page at bit.ly/2WHi9Ji.
The church was originally a chapel to the manor house that stood next door and its earliest recorded origins can be traced back to 1221, soon after the signing of the Magna Carta. Much of that 13th century building remains, and it is by far the oldest building in the village.
Plans to improve it were first thought about back in the 1950s, when the lack of toilet facilities was recognised as a problem by the parochial church council of the day. Several plans have been designed since then but only now is the right design and fundraising plan in place.
Vicar Teresa Taylor said: “The congregation of St James want to leave a legacy which lays the foundation for the next 800 years.
“Over the last few years, St. James’s PCC and leadership team have developed ambitious plans to renovate the church building, creating a flexible space available to for use by the local community and as a modern Christian church serving Mangotsfield, Emersons Green and the rapidly-growing Lyde Green.”
The vision for the church building is for it to be fully open to its communities, as accessible as possible, sustainable and energy-efficient, comfortable and welcoming, flexible and prepared for the future.
After a “significant amount of time” planning the renovations and securing permissions by the congregation, a final service in the church’s current layout, which dates back to 1850s, was held on Sunday June 9 and attended by some 140 people.
The builders moved in the next day and if the project is completed on time, the church will be ready in time for Christmas.
Photo courtesy of Chris Taylor