In November 2000, a new Church Hall was opened by the Rt. Revd. Dr. Kenneth Stevenson, Bishop of Portsmouth. This was the outcome of a vigorous fundraising campaign, as well as sensitive architecture within the constraints of the site and the heritage of All Saints Church. Captain Chris Cobley RN led the project, and here summarises the project.
The size, shape, overall design and siting of the Hall were greatly constrained by Church of England and Local Authorities’ planning requirements, and by the overwhelming requirement to have minimum visual impact on the historic Norman church itself. The building therefore had to be sited behind the Church, and set back from the line of the Church’s West end.
This brought two immediate complications: The slope of the hill required additional excavation; and the North side of the church had once been (following ancient custom) the traditional site for unconsecrated burials in unmarked graves. There was also the possibility that remains of other ancient church buildings might exist in that area.
The site therefore had to be excavated under the supervision of Hampshire County Council archaeologists. Fortunately, no evidence of buildings was revealed, but a considerable number of human remains were carefully unearthed, recorded, and subsequently reburied elsewhere in the churchyard.
Total cost of the project was just under £221,000.
Existing funds and legacies provided sufficient funding for the first phase of excavation, planning and design to start in 1997-8. This was quickly underpinned with a major fundraising project. Applications were submitted for grants from suitable charitable foundations. A number of fundraising events were held, including a Grand Auction of antiques, collectibles and promises conducted by Chris Jacobs, the local auctioneer.
But by far the largest proportion of the funds raised, was donated by some 90 individuals: members of the congregation and many other friends of the church, donating sums ranging from £25 – £10,000, and enhanced by a considerable amount of tax reclaimed under Gift Aid.
A very popular scheme was the ‘sale’ of Chilmark Limestones with which the building is dressed. Donors wishing to make a lasting contribution, could donate the cost of a stone, perhaps in memory of someone.
Construction & Management
The Church Hall was built by Everest Construction Ltd, to a design by architect Gary Seymour. The project was managed by the Standing Committee of the PCC:
The Rev’d Canon Terry Louden, Vicar
John Rendle CBE, Sara Cobley and Anthony Perkins, Churchwardens
Captain Chris Cobley, Project Leader
The Hall was opened by the Rt. Revd. Dr. Kenneth Stevenson, Bishop of Portsmouth, on Sunday 26 November, 2000. Chris Cobley, PCC Project Leader, received the keys from David Everest, Builder, and presented them to the Bishop, who blessed the new building and dedicated the Keystone in memory of John Rendle, CBE, who was Churchwarden at the start of the project and one of its strongest supporters.
The Church Hall Today
The Church Hall provides essential facilities in support of Church activities, such as: PCC and Deanery Synod meetings; Sunday Club for children; Tea and coffee after services; and Choir Practices.
It also provides a venue for other suitable activities, such as presentations and meetings when the village hall is unavailable. For private and non-church-related activities, a hire charge is made to offset heating and running costs, and to include a contribution towards Church expenses. A fundamental principle is that the Church Hall does not deprive the Village Hall of custom or revenue.
Church Hall facilities include: a 60 sq. m. Meeting Room, Toilet with disabled access, Sink and preparation facilities for hot drinks and refreshments, and storage for crockery, choir music and Sunday Club activities.
More material, including posters promoting the fundraising and commemorating the donors, can be found in our online archive, click here.