St Mary and All Saints Church, Droxford
St Mary and All Saints in Droxford is an attractive early Norman church still bearing many features of the mid- to late-12th Century. The church was enlarged by the addition of the north aisle in the late 12th Century and the south aisle in the 13th Century. It is Grade 1 listed, the tower and other parts of the fabric were in urgent need of restoration and the church was listed by English Heritage on the ‘at risk’ register, but thanks to a Heritage Lottery Grant for Places of Worship and to the hard work of the Friends of Droxford Church supporting the aims of the PCC, much of that remedial work has been undertaken.
The next challenge is to get ready for MISSION, to serve our community and celebrate our great heritage..
Droxford church can accommodate up to 300 people with seats for about 225. It is unusual in having two side chapels. The South Chapel is furnished as a quiet worship space, and used for weekday services. The North Chapel has recently been cleared by re-siting the organ, and is currently used as a vestry while heritage investigations are ongoing.
Droxford: St Mary and All Saints – at the Heart of the Community
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’ And now our feet are standing within your gates. Psalm 122: 1-2a
The Parochial Church Council (PCC), very ably supported by the Friends of Droxford Church (FODC) has made huge progress to repair and restore the building (although there is more to be done) and to engage the wider public in the planning. Historic England have been consulted throughout the process and have provided architectural guidance. The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Grants for Places of Worship Scheme (GPoW) has provided the resources for the structural work completed so far and have placed obligations on the PCC into the future to ensure the building remains, as the PCC wants, at the heart of the community well into the future. The PCC, with expertise from FODC, has undertaken repairs and developments to date.
Consultation meetings have been held at each stage of the process, which have been well-attended and Rector sent a questionnaire to every household in the Benefice about church buildings and their use.
The sensitive approach is leading to a good balance in the sacred, community and heritage activity and resource in and around the building and it is the PCC’s intention that this should be so for many years to come.
A Letter of Intent is in place and a detailed Memorandum of Understanding between the PCC and FODC is being drafted to identify the distinct roles and obligations, and their commitment to the future life of the building.
It soon become abundantly clear to the Rector, then newly appointed, that through the work enabled under the GPoW Scheme, that all the interested groups are all working together for the benefit of, and the wider engagement with all the overlapping communities of the area, for the benefit of visitors and for people with historic interests in or connections with the area.
The PCC not only believe that the direction of travel is right theologically, but also because it is practical, achievable, sustainable and will make a significant impact on people’s lives for the better.
In my Father’s House there are many rooms
Through the clearing of clutter, the installation of the glass screens in the North Chapel and a study of architectural drawings, it is evident that the church building has great potential to be simultaneously one large space and yet have several distinct rooms reflecting where it has come from (its shared heritage with the community) and how it will remain living into the years ahead.
The creative and imaginative examination of the church building and its uses by the PCC with the Rector, and supported so much by successful bids to the HLF and to the county council (HCC) with other potential grants and private donations, make the future development of the sacred space embracing a Community Hub viable and sustainable; the building will be preserved for posterity as a focal point for worshippers, disciples and pilgrims, the community and visitors alike and will not become an indecently underused and under-valued vestige of times past..
There are also currently constraints on worship (Holy Communion, family and informal worship, and baptisms especially) due to the layout inherited from the early twentieth century and later lighting and sound installations.
Following the December 2015 preliminary survey, in May 2016, the Rector led a consultation and review day using ‘Healthy Churches’ materials to begin the vision-building process afresh. This led well into the Leading your Church into Growth (LyCiG) work which has been underway across the Benefice since October 2016 and the worshipping community have identified that our broad strategy for growth is:
Aim Emerging from LyCiG
Develop our existing goal: ‘Welcome Everybody – Everybody Welcome’ by prioritising the deepening of our faith and our theological understanding, so that we might develop our invitation and serve our communities, and so grow in numbers.
First Draft of Benefice Mission Statement
To be prophetic citizens of the Kingdom, with deeper individual and corporate spirituality, to enable us to work as an ever learning and missional community, to serve others and to build up the Body of Christ, His church.
PROPHETIC ~ SPIRITUAL ~ LEARNING ~ ~ SERVING ~INVITING ~ GROWING
The PCC recognise that the church currently constrains our capacity to build a culture of invitation, to teach and learn, to worship and to draw in the community and visitors to the area.
The Community Hub and its supporting facilities in an extension are much needed and sought after – they are the essential wherewithal for mission; they will afford opportunities for Christian hospitality, for local and rural events and community exhibitions; the project will build social capital and community coherence by addressing rural isolation; the church will then be able to be a more engaging worshipping space, a venue for talks, concerts, exhibitions and even small conferences; the work will enable a fuller use of an attractive building and potentially flexible building; and, it will enhance the developing relationship with schools.
Churches and Faith Buildings: Realising the Potential (HM Treasury, DCMS, DEFRA) recognised some time ago that:
Faith groups, including the Church of England (CofE), have shared objectives with Government in the field of delivering public services, and although it is clear and understood that Government has no role in funding such activities as worship, faith buildings represent a great stock of assets in every community which have the potential to contribute to Government outcomes.
… faith-based organisations can be well positioned to act in the best interests of communities and deliver services. The CofE and other faith groups engage through social networks which allow them to connect with their local communities including hard to reach individuals who might not engage with other members of society.
The physical suitability of their buildings can limit their use for delivering services and local groups, in most cases, lack the resources to make the necessary adjustments to enable this to happen. This might be as simple as the installation of toilets and kitchens, but also the creation of meeting rooms and improved lighting and heating.
The work of the PCC supported by FODC, resourced through the HLF, HCC and the South Downs National Park Authority will enable us, subject to the Chancellor’s consent, to overcome those barriers to reaching that potential and shared goals. Buildings can be liabilities as well as assets; this work will help greatly to release the full potential of our building as a community resource without all of the burden falling solely on the worshipping community for resources for a wider community.
Support is evident most straightforwardly in the form of grants – albeit challenging to obtain – but it is most important that we look forward to capacity-building, guidance or skills sourced with or through our partners in the church (such as the DAC, mission and spiritualty advisers as well as local agencies, in the public, private or third sectors.
As long ago as 2004, the Church Heritage Forum on behalf of the Church of England produced a national report that identified key ways of working to keep heritage alive in communities through churches and for churches to work to support communities to the ends that her Majesty’s Government sought.
Churches, and not least Droxford Church, have been integral to this country’s history and development. They can also play a central part in today’s community.
The Parish, within the Meon Bridge Benefice, seeks to celebrate our church buildings and the achievements of volunteers who maintain them. We want visitors and the wider community to understand how our church buildings contribute to the community and we seek partnership to sustain those achievements for the future.
Droxford Church, like our other church buildings, is the oldest building in the village and its surroundings and is still in continual use, but ensure its future life and not turn it into an albeit fascinating relic. It remains a focus. It is probably the most architecturally complex, most archaeologically sensitive, and most visited building in the village, with the exception of the pubs perhaps, but its historic environment is not a grand set piece, with no relevance to the lives of ordinary people. A good local environment, such as ours, potentially enables creativity, self-worth, and a deeper quality of life.
The continuing developments from now, and envisaged for the next 3-10 years, makes the church a significant partner in tackling rural exclusion. We have the potential for providing community facilities that are otherwise lacking. Public funds are being made available, not to support worship – that is our own challenge, but for our mission of learning and servanthood, with appropriate modification of the church building, for educational purposes and for the upkeep of community facilities within it and for infra-structure to attract and retain engagement with us as a social, community and heritage force for good.
Our churches, especially Droxford, can offer outreach meriting recognition. We seek, as Church, growth in faith, service and numbers, and the wholeness and fulfilment of all people. Our work is to reach out to all in the community and to ‘reach in’, and that flows directly from our faith: it does not demand religious adherence from, but it does offer an invitation to those in the community we seek to serve.
Notwithstanding the fact that faith is not, as yet at least, a minority interest, and it still forms part of the bedrock of the life of this country, many people attend occasional offices and support the wider objectives, the historic significance, and community work of the Church even if they have no overt or regular commitment to regular church attendance. In the Bridge Benefice, we encourage, even many groups and individuals, to work with us as a partner in serving the community and society more widely.
As well as having the potential for outreach meriting recognition, work with local partners and being a centre of voluntary and community activity, it is well established that church buildings, like Droxford, can act as centres for culture.
‘Churches can contribute to the objectives of the region’s cultural strategy, especially through:
- Encouraging people and communities to take part in cultural activities;
- Celebrating diversity of cultural practice;
- Stimulating new work and contemporary creative practice;
- Using the Church’s resources, including its buildings, as venues for many other cultural activities as well as worship;
- Preserving, presenting and understanding heritage.’
In My Father’s House There Are Many Rooms
Defining the open space so each part has a character and role fit for mission by creating ‘rooms without walls’ unifying the whole
- Develop further the culture of invitation and welcome beyond a cheery smile at the door
- Cultivate a sense of largely open-plan rooms around a sacred heart of the building serving our mission
- Improve the state of repair of the north and south chapels
- Preserve and enhance the sacred, honour and celebrate the inherited in which church and village are intertwined and serve the community
- Develop the sense of space but with the capacity to seat flexibly for baptisms, large weddings and funerals, school services, sacred drama, performances, teaching and meetings
- Develop the Community Room, its support areas and enhance the Heritage/ Memorial areas
- Provide an extension to provide much needed toilets and food & drink preparation area, an administrative area cum vestry, a room for mentoring, chaplaincy and to support the community room volunteers, the choir and others.
- Improve flow and sense of communion at the services especially the Eucharist, including a nave altar and more open space at the east end of the nave, whilst preserving the Sanctuary as a holy area
- Define and develop the Children’s area with a view to safety, security, comfort, play and learning
- Re-site organ to better position and provide for a choir without constraining the seating for others and provide space for other forms of liturgical music and activity including informal services
- Provide a space for 1:1 prayer and healing ministry, for a votive candle stand, memorial book and wedding prayers and for coffins at funerals in the chancel
- Ability to clear seating, in zones for varied liturgy and fellowship
- Improve harmony of layout, tidiness and storage while preserving the diverse characteristics handed down over the generations that add to the character of the building
Specific Solutions to Obstacles to, and aspirations for our Liturgy and Fellowship as seen by the Rector and PCC
Immediate/ Current/ Urgent
|Obstacle or Constrained Ambition||Proposed Step(s)||Comment|
|1||There is no open space for gathering informally after services or for the community to use e.g. community café, daytime groups, evening classes.||Restore and furnish the north chapel as the Community Hub (St Wilfrid Room?) and set up in café style with AV resources for information and adaptable for teaching.||No food or drink preparation due to wall paintings – faculty granted. Volunteer manager and helpers already recruited for the Café.
Safes and vestry materials and fixtures need re-siting into proposed extension.
|2||Neither basic kitchen facilities nor toilet facilities exist for congregation or visitor;
No small meeting space for chaplaincy, mentoring, volunteers, choir robing;
No benefice office facilities or room for an administrator.
|Build extension, to avoid further limiting potential future functions and harming the aesthetics of the main body of the building||Build and extension sympathetically on the north side of the church to provide the resources needed to support the community room and its volunteers – viz. a food/ drink prep area; administrative office/ vestry to replace lost use; toilets; multi use small meeting room (also prep area extension, choir vestry etc).|
|3||The heavy wooden screen designed by Nicholson had to be removed from the north chapel||Re-site it, on a trial basis, in the south west corner of the church to define the children’s and family area||AD’s licence in place for trial until February 2018|
|4||Neville Lovett Chapel (aka Lady Chapel) is a much loved space for mid-week worship and is useful for small group teaching (sacred) but in poor decorative order||Begin restoration by sensitively removing old flaking emulsion paint and restring Italian crucifix||Appeal underway with good local support.
The chapel’s appearance and use is enhanced by the comfortable chairs, but the pews on the south wall can also be well used.
Recent family memorial glass nearby.
|5||There is no line of sight between organist and person leading worship. The sound system, also linked to the organ, relies on one large speaker and the amplifier, rf receiver for the radio microphone and loop system are located in NE corner of the church. The alarm and light switches are at the foot of the tower.||Co-locate sound system with lights. Get reports for improving sound (audio visual systems) and lighting.
Re-site organ at the back of church by removing little used rows of pews at the back and provide seating that can used for the choir facing east or for baptisms facing the font
|Some of the pew-shelves have graffiti from their use to ‘house’ children in early C20 – several old village names – preserve shelves as architectural features elsewhere.|
|6||Existing heritage panels unwieldy and not located to best advantage||Site new and attractive panels along north wall – accessible to visitors and Community Room users||Remove pews on north side which are rarely used due to poor lines of sight. Provide moveable seating that can be brought out for baptisms and very large services or on a smaller scale in front of heritage panels|
By end of 2020
|1||Font located in nw corner of church, very poor visibility for congregation, difficult for ministers to move round and very limited space for candidates, parents and godparents||Remove pews at the back of north central section of nave. Provide seats that can be turned to face font||Links to removing pews at the back south central section to site organ and to seat choir and others|
|2||Foot of bell tower a usefully sized space but Unsightly and cluttered and space needed for Bell ringers.||Provide good storage for equipment and for chairs.
Site lighting, heating and sound controls here
|Consider provision for brides and funeral parties entering the church|
|3||Develop the children’s corner further as an area for nurture, sacred play, learning and prayer||Furnishings, resources and toys||Links to Messy Church developments with schools (next step)|
|4||Neville Lovett Chapel (aka Lady Chapel) is a much loved space for mid-week worship and is useful for small group teaching (sacred)||Restore by sensitively removing old layers or emulsion etc. and restore paintwork with suitable approved paint||Appeal underway with good local support.
The chapel’s appearance and use is enhanced by the comfortable chairs, but the pews on the south wall can also be well used
|5||Determine best seating along south wall||Consultation||It may be appropriate to retain the pews which seat several children and school’s services, are used as overspill for mid-week services and are part of the inherited character of the building and in this area do not limit flexibility|
|6||The ‘high’ altar and its rail are quite some distance from the nave, this and with the chancel arch cause audibility problems and also physical accessibility problems for some.||Open up space in front of chancel arch and site a nave altar such that visibility and audibility are good and such that flow can be smoot and not congested||Nave altar moveable as required.
Chancel form a good space for healing and prayer.
|7||Develop the north aisle further to bring together the intertwined history of the settlements with the church, the war memorials with the strong military heritage of the village and rural life||As well as display panels from phase 1, enhance war memorial and RBL standards area and permanent housing for ceramic poppies||One ceramic poppy for each of the WW1 fallen from the village.
WW2 memorial on an external wall – civil parish council considering offering it to church to co-locate with WW1.
Rural life not yet celebrated other than at harvest
By 2027 – NB DRAFT for discussion and consultation
|Preparing to enter||Make foot of Bell Tower into a welcome area for occasional offices especially, while leaving room for bell-ringers|
|New Birth||Font re-sited (or replaced and sited), defined by tiling or mosaic on floor, at crossing point of E-W axis and axis of N&S doors|
|Living Christ today – Membership of the Body of Christ||Nave seated in east facing chairs or radially around the font according to service type or activity|
|Young Nurture||Keeping the Children’s area fit for play, learning and prayer and integrated with the nave (membership)|
|Continuing Nurture||Neville Lovett (Lady) Chapel restored fully and nurturing us through the mid-week Eucharist and sacred teaching and learning|
|Cruciform -Word and Sacrament||Pattern of tiling or other floor cover to pick out cruciform layout defined by the ‘Sacrament axis’ along central aisle of the nave from font into Chapel of Healing and Prayer (chancel) and the ‘Word axis’ forward of and between lectern and pulpit with nave altar over the intersection.|
|Gethsemane & Calvary – Healing & Prayer||Chapel set up for anointing, meditation and reflection, prayer, and healing.
Also the site for coffins at funerals and bounded by glass screens to north and south
|Easter Day||Sanctuary with High Altar and Aumbry (with lock and light). Large communion services can be celebrated traditionally or very small in the round|
|Serving the Community Now||Being a Learning community, Serving Others and Fellowship through Community Room and Café strongly established|
|Tools for Mission, Ministry and Community Service||Extension fully developed with broadband, telephone, administrator in post.
Wedding preparation, confirmation classes etc in regular pattern in meeting room.
 Building Faith in our Future (The Archbishops’ Council, 2004).
 Gary Churchill, Towards a Cultural Strategy for Churches in the East Midlands, Creative Options Consultancy Ltd for Arts Council, East Midlands, July 2003
Faced with the challenges of urgent restoration and the declining use of the Church building five years ago, the Rector and the PCC encouraged the creation of the Friends of Droxford Church. From the outset the Friends’ objectives were not only to raise funds for restoration, but also to enhance the facilities to make the building more fit for purpose. The Friends have successfully appealed to a wide range of people who are not church-goers but care passionately about their village church, and want it to be there in times of need or simply value its heritage.
In May 2014, an application for a grant of £220,000 was made to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the urgent structural repairs. This is an essential first step in the realisation of our vision for the church as a vibrant community hub and heritage centre. Our application was granted following the final application in May 2015.
Activity Plan and Cafe
The existing congregation is not large enough to sustain the church building even in a restored state, However discussion with community stakeholders in the village has confirmed the value of a traditional venue using the full capacity of the building (c.250) for secular and religious events, and also a requirement for a community room in which committees, councils, discussion groups, and social care groups (c.12-25) could meet in a comfortable environment. We are investigating the feasibility of running a Community Café in the church, with the encouragement of the Diocese and the local community. A provisional rota of volunteers is currently being drawn up.
We have identified an additional opportunity for a permanent Heritage Centre to facilitate the growing interest in Local History, beginning with the re-discovery of the Meon Valley Saxon heritage, and through the building of the Church in the 12th Century, up to the historic D-Day meetings of Churchill and the Allied Commanders at Droxford Station in June 1944, whose 70th anniversary we celebrated last year. By presenting the church as a focus for the interpretation of our heritage we will enable more visitors of all ages to explore and engage with the church itself, the history of Droxford and the Meon Valley area. We are working with an experienced Heritage Consultant to help us define how we should interpret and display our heritage.
Our plans for the church have received widespread support from the community, including the Droxford Parochial Church Council, Droxford Parish Council (including the Parish Plan Group), Hampshire County Council, South Downs National Park Authority, our Winchester City Councillor, Droxford Junior School and Droxford Country Fair.
Update January 2017
Restoration and interior works
Our prime contractor, R J Smith, has completed the second phase of the Community Hub Project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Parochial Church Council and the Friends of Droxford Church (FODC). The next phase will be the installation of glass screens in the North Chapel area in late February. This enclosure will create the space for a Community Room and Café in the north chapel.
The Heritage group coordinated by Michael Chandler plans to arrange a further public consultation meeting in late March. For further information concerning the heritage activities please contact Michael Chandler on 01489 878741 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Church Community Hub
Planning continues for the Community Hub extension to house essential facilities i.e. kitchen, toilets, storage and administration. This is an essential condition of the Heritage Lottery Fund grant, and has received outline approval from the Diocese, Historic England and SDNPA. The project is supported by Hampshire County Council which has awarded up to £75,000.