The spire of the church has been reshingled with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund, and that means there is no major maintenance work outstanding and we can now look to updating the facilities our church provides.
What are the main issues?
1) The toilet is too small for someone in a wheelchair to access, or for a parent to change a baby. It is accessed through our kitchen area, which is narrow and only after climbing three steps. These issues need to be resolved in order to be more welcoming to visitors who need to use these facilities.
2) Part of our welcome is providing refreshments at the back of church after services, and while the church is open during the summer. This currently involves carrying water to and from the existing kitchen, and trailing cables from the wall to a table. The existing sink is shared between those who provide our hospitality, and our team of flower arrangers. None of this is ideal, and we could to do better. We aim to do this by providing a tea and coffee point at the back of the church, which would make the existing kitchen redundant, along with a separate sink for the flower arrangers. These facilities would probably be hidden away when not in use.
3) The existing children's corner is part of our welcome to families, but may need to move to provide facilities we need, and this gives us an opportunity to renew and rethink these so that they meet the needs of our families.
4) The historic doors into the church allow substantial draughts to blow through the church. If these draughts can be reduced then that will make the building more welcoming, and reduce our heating costs.
Where do we go from here?
Any work we do within the church needs to be sensitive to the historic fabric of the beautiful building which we are only custodians of. The first stage will be selecting an architect who has experience of designing change within churches, and so will be careful to balance the preservative of what we have inherited against the needs of today's world.
Once we have draft plans we will consult our congregation, and the wider community, on our plans. Ultimately we will need to apply for formal permission ("a faculty") from the Diocese before proceeding. The work may be completed in one go, or in separate phases depending on the cost and complexity of what is required.
How can I help?
Clearly we will need to raise money to do this to a standard that is appropriate within a listed building, but as well as donations we would look for help with fundraising and grant applications.
Donations can be made here. "Donation to this charity" is on the right hand side of the page, and please quote "St Nicholas Hospitality Project" under the "Special instruction to charity" section so that we know what the money is for.
Cheques payable to "St Nicholas Church Godstone" can be sent by post to:
St Nicholas Hospitality Project, The Rectory, 17 Ivy Mill Lane, Godstone RH9 8NH.