The Wiltshire Historic Churches Trust supported St Thomas with a grant to help with the payment for its new kitchen and toilet facilities.
The Bishop of Bristol dedicated the new church facilities in a service of thanksgiving on Sunday 28th October 2018. In her sermon, Bishop Viv highlighted the importance of the new kitchen and toilets to the church and its congregation.
The objectives were to :
Install a fully-accessible toilet. This was badly needed and was a key point in the drive to make this church accessible and welcoming to all.
Install a second toilet. This was to meet the need for more than one toilet when the church is particularly full, for instance during services for the village school or there is a big funeral.
Install a new tea-and-coffee station. This was to replace the basic, dated and scruffy facility which was originally installed about 30 years ago.
Make 4 pews portable. This was a small but important part of the project. Four pews at the front of the church can now be moved on wheels. This means that they remain available when needed for very full services. This will make the building more attractive for certain community events but, equally important, the flexibility of layout allows worship to be explored in new ways.
Significance of the Project
The project has been a great success at many levels :
The appearance and ambiance of the inside of the church have been immensely enhanced. On entry to the building, which is normally via the north door, a visitor is now welcomed with an attractive and open view instead of looking across the building to a scruffy curtain which shielded a decrepit refreshment area.
The addition of the fully-accessible toilet meets a highly important requirement. Thomas à Becket church has made significant improvements to its accessibility over recent years (including the electro-magnetic loop, a door ramp, improved documentation, and additional training) but a major aim has long been the addition of a fully-accessible toilet.
The design by Chedburn Dudley has made excellent use of existing features such as the arch of the old south west doorway, now incorporated into the accessible toilet ; the large memorial above it has been enhanced rather than spoilt by the new joinery.
The re-ordering has been four and a half years in gestation. It was first discussed in the PCC in the spring of 2014, and fund raising started in 2016. The cost was a very considerable challenge. Grants were obtained from the Wiltshire Historic Churches Trust and a number of other charities. The village gave tremendous support.