All Saints Church Restoration project 2020-2021
Information supplied by Margaret Greeves
In recent years the Church has restored its ancient tower, and added a kitchen/servery and a disabled toilet.
The church then wanted to provide a more flexible space for worship and for activities (compatible with the church as a place of worship) for the wider Harston community. Replacement of the ageing pews with chairs and benches would help on special occasions and when school parties and other groups visit the church, as well as giving them much greater flexibility in the events which they can organise.
Who would benefit?
They wanted everyone to benefit. Early ideas that had been suggested by 2020 included:
- A pop-up cafe for young mothers and for the elderly, with space for young children to play;
- A small ICT-hub for people with no home access to the Internet or Zoom conferencing;
- A space for musical concerts and dramatic productions;
- A permanent exhibition of the history of Harston through the ages;
- A place for quiet reflection, inside and/or outside.
What was planned?
• Replacement of the pews with new chairs
• Replacement of the current linoleum floor with limestone tiles (see new flooring page)
• Redecoration of the entire building when they can afford it.
Why was this needed?
- The brown lino tiles beneath the pews were very worn and a few of them were missing. They, and some small holes in the floor, were starting to develop into trip hazards. The tiles stopped the floor breathing, resulting in the damp rising through the floor of the nave which was damaging the pews and the stonework at the base of the pillars (stone columns) – which is why the project has included restoration work on the disintegrating plaster at the base of the columns.
- The pew seating arrangement severely limited the uses of the church.
What was the timescale and costs?
Despite Covid 19, phase 1 began in October 2020 with the removal of the pews and their replacement with robust, stackable chairs. Some of the existing pews were sold off for people’s houses or gardens.
Phase 2 followed in early 2021 with the replacement of the floor tiles. The new tiles were delivered on 23 March, 2021. The Cambridge Historic Churches Trust gave an interest-free loan towards replacing the floor with Ancaster Limestone Tiles which will allow the floor to breathe, so preventing damage to the columns.
The new seating and flooring cost about £75,000 paid for by the generosity of church members, together with loans from church trusts. The church aimed, however, to raise a further £20,000 to pay off the loans and provide a cushion against unforeseen contingencies.
After that, the church hopes to raise funds to implement some of the new ideas listed above for greater use of the Church, and also for full redecoration. Redecoration will inevitably be much more costly.
A Looking out from Lockdown exhibition was held in October 2020 and a 2021 Harston Calendar, full of photographs submitted to the weekly photo competition run during the early summer Lockdown, were sold to raise money, as well as to record the impact of the epidemic on the village.
The church hopes to raise funds for redecoration from early 2021 through a mixture of individual gifts and grants from heritage and other trusts.