The church has faced two significant challenges over the last few years….
First, it is a large and beautiful building located in a parish whose size has shrunk dramatically over the centuries. If we are to preserve the church as a viable place of worship and as a significant asset for the village, we need to broaden the range of uses to which it can be put, to preserve a space for worship and to extend its use for serving the whole parish.
Recently, the Church has been hosting concerts and lectures, as well as providing services for weddings and funerals.
However, a lack of amenities has made this difficult. A significant project has been undertaken, enthusiatically led by Mike Hough, the Chair of the Broadwell Parish Metting, to provide kitchen facilities and toilet facilities. This project is finally underway, having secured the funding through bequests and grants. Having been significantly delayed following the discovery of bats in the boiler room (rather than, somewhat disappointingly. The Belfry). Having safeguarded the bats, work has recommenced.
The kitchen facilities are being located in the north transept (behind the Organ), and a toilet is being installed in the redundant early C20th boiler-room, built against the east wall of the north transept. A door would be created through the rubble wall of the north transept to provide access to the toilet.
An outstanding element of work is to look at the heating within the church to see if this can become more economical and also improve the building’s green credentials.
The second challenge was simpler, but also pressing. The botched rehanging of the bells at the end of the 19th Century means that remedial work was required. The 2014 quinquennial review
concluded that, “The iron frame is extensively corroded with cracking
and some bulging/looseness of masonry where iron beams are set into walls. The condition of the embedded beam ends should be investigated and the ironwork and masonry treated/repaired as required.”
Simply lowering the bells, removing the frame and repairing the tower was an option, but not one that respected the history of the building or preserved its heritage. The need for remedial work presented an opportunity for restoring and rehanging the bells that would both meet the obligations of conservation facing the PCC and re-establish an amenity that has been lost to the village for a century – a fully functioning peal of bells.
This project was successfully undertaken with an outcome that there are now 10 bells hanging in the tower, 8 in peal and 2 set in chime. There was sufficient interest within the village to assemble and train a team of bellringers, and to attract ringers from neighbouring villages and elsewhere.
The bellringing group has now started in earnest but is always on the lookout for new joiners.