Ambitious plans have been revealed to build a £5 million church hall and education centre in the grounds of St Wulfram’s Church.
Members of the church have been presented with the big plans following the recent sale of the 1960s church hall to the King’s School, together with part of the rectory gardens.
The far-reaching plans include the construction of a large and small hall, an education centre, a heritage skills centre, a ‘song school’ which will be available to other musical groups in the town, and archive space.
If the plan goes ahead it is proposed to build in the south and western areas of the churchyard, towards Swinegate. This will mean some graves being disturbed, but Fr Stuart Cradduck, rector of St Wulfram’s, says all efforts will be made to ensure that as few graves as possible will be affected. But a feasibility study has to be undertaken to make sure that this area of the churchyard is suitable. Fr Cradduck said the law allows building on top of existing graves as long as they are over a 100 years old.
The education centre would enable St Wulfram’s to be used as a resource by schools throughout south Lincolnshire and beyond. It is hoped a heritage skills centre would allow for the training of apprentices in stonemasonry, carpentry and glasswork.
The far-reaching plans also include four almshouses and a refuge for anyone who needs to escape from domestic violence. Also included are a cafe, kitchen, toilets and storage space.
“The town has already been hugely generous in the recent past in saving the spire. The £5 million it will take to build this community and church resource will be found by other means, and as a person of faith I believe, maybe naively, that the Lord will provide!Fr Stuart Cradduck
Fr Stuart said the sale of the church hall, which was located across the road between the rectory and the King’s School, had made the church a ‘poor relation’ compared to other churches in the area, which all have additional facilities to support their work.
He said he hoped the plans will be a catalyst for the church to provide care and provision for other works within the wider community. He added: “The vision we hope is to be a resource which will enable community, economic, environmental and spiritual regeneration within Grantham, making most of the opportunities which face us.”
The feasibility study will now take place following site visits by the churches planning authority and Historic England.
Fr Stuart said: “It is important to stress that this is the beginning of a process of consultation and investigation, after the advice from these very important planning bodies and that if a new building were to go up within the churchyard, this building would visually stand apart from St Wulfram’s and that the medieval fabric of the building would not change.”
He added: “Lots of people will ask where will the money come to pay for such an undertaking, and that’s a good question, but one thing I am sure about is that there will not be a call to the people of Grantham to give to St Wulfram’s for this project.
“The town has already been hugely generous in the recent past in saving the spire. The £5 million it will take to build this community and church resource will be found by other means, and as a person of faith I believe, maybe naively, that the Lord will provide!
“The proposals suggested to the congregation on Sunday were greeted favorably and we look forward to how we can resource the growth of this hugely exciting and adventurous project to help us secure our place at the heart of the community.”
Work on the plans for the new building began last year when a working group, headed by Fr Stuart, looked at the options for a new church hall and community centre.
Fr Stuart challenged the group to think about the how the new build would not only best equip the church but also the wider community. He said: “What can we build to best support the people of Grantham, to equip who we are as a community and resource the church and Grantham in the future?”