The faculty authorizing construction of the building, now formally named as St Mary’s Church Centre, was signed by the Chancellor on 10 November.
The Yew bush outside the Parish Office was felled and its roots grubbed out. Those gravestones that occupy the site were moved in preparation for levelling the whole area, and will be replaced around the graveyard boundary adjacent to the north and west walls. An access track for contractors' vehicles has been made along the edge of Mill Green.
Work on excavating for the foundation pads, situated at 12 points around the periphery of the building, which will support the concrete base slab, is now in progress. As expected, this has necessitated work by archaeologists wherever old burials were encountered, from the middle ages and possibly earlier. The soil which has been removed will be taken to the New Cemetery ("The Chalk Pit"), and used to create a fresh area for interment of cremation ashes in the future.
The whole process should be completed by Christmas (2018, that is!). Watch this space!
The Annexe constitutes the second phase of the overall 21st Century Project. The last element of the reordering - the installation of the new Audio/Visual system - which constituted the first phase, was completed in July 2015. The planning application for the Annexe was submitted to Wokingham Borough Council in August 2015. These illustrations, plans, and supporting documents were on display in St. Mary's Church from August 30th. In February 2016, Wokingham Borough Council granted consent for the Annexe proposals set out in our planning application. We were then able to proceed with the necessary detailed design work covering the quality and scope of all aspects of the building project.
The Annexe will be on the north side of the Church, abutting the outside walls of the Lady Chapel and the Parish Office. The main reception area and the front entrance for visitors will be adjacent to the Parish Office with pathway access direct from Mill Green. Access from the Nave will be through the North Door and a short pathway into the rear of the Annexe. The meeting area will be partitioned into two rooms divided by a folding screen. It will adjoin the reception area together with the kitchenette facility and toilets.
Convenient access from the Parish Office enables the meeting rooms to double on weekdays as offices for the clergy/voluntary workers. The annexe will offer advantages for mid-week meetings, such as Christianity Explored, that have not previously been properly accommodated, and will provide space for discussion groups where people can talk and pray in a calm and uncrowded environment.
The Hannen Room will continue to be used routinely for children’s activities on Sundays and be available for use by the Church and for Village activities during the week.
February 2016 Progress to date - Approval of Planning Application:
On 8 February 2016, Wokingham Borough Council granted consent for the Annexe proposals set out in our planning application that was submitted in September of last year. We can now proceed with the necessary detailed design work covering the quality and scope of all aspects of the building project. This would include such matters as the specification of the piling required to support the building and the involvement of the Diocesan Archaeologist in resolving attendant graveyard issues. It may take 3 months to clarify these points and process a faculty through to the Diocesan Registrar who will authorise the work.
The design lends itself to breakdown of the construction into two distinct elements:
The two elements are almost the same in terms of cost within the overall budget of £400,000, which includes the £50,000 emergency reserve. There is therefore an opportunity to press ahead with the shell once £200,000 becomes available. The Appeal already stands at £70,000.
design team, Nick Rule the Architect and Martin Macro the Quantity Surveyor,
consider the cost and contract management of this project to be well suited to their
combined capabilities and experience
Key design features
The design is restrained but modern and uses natural
materials to sit calmly alongside the important historic Church. A small
memorial garden will be formed between the North porch of the Church and the
The main frame of the new building is in steel
sections and enables fast construction and clear internal spaces for
flexibility of layout in the future. The roof is clad in pre weathered copper
sheet with bonded insulation below and a traditional standing seam jointing
detail. The gutters are integral to the edge of the roof. The frame is clad
externally in glass reinforced moulded concrete panels and the non load bearing
walls that make up the external envelope are timber framed and clad in self
coloured render faced panels and highly insulated for energy conservation.
Windows and doors are formed in stained European oak
and the North facing and West facing meeting rooms have full height glazed
external walls that make the interiors well lit and allow views over the
The East lobby hallway has a doorway link through the Parish office to the North Chapel. The North Porch has been reopened and access provided to the Church Yard and West entrance of the annexe.