Congregation – Full Consultation Paper

9th July 2024

St Mary’s Kings Worthy Cherish Building Project


The PCC of St Mary’s have adopted a programme called ‘Cherish’ – a deliberate way of looking at different aspects of church life and how they might need to evolve going into the future. It touches on many areas – how we’re organised, how our church building looks and functions, how we relate to our community to make sure that we have a healthy, relevant and forward looking approach to worship, faith and our shared life together. Rev’d Paul Bradish introduced Cherish at the Annual Parish Meeting in May 2023. More information on Cherish and what each letter stands for is available at HERE.

Cherish is a programme of activities – each being taken forward by a small group of church members – focusing on an aspect of church life or our purpose and role at the heart of our local community.  Some of the projects will be short and some longer term.

This Consultation Paper focuses on the Cherish Building Project.

Background to the Cherish Building Project

St Mary’s has been at the heart of our worshipping community, a focus for faith and for celebrating and commemorating the lives of our communities for centuries. The oldest parts of St Mary’s date back to the 13th Century and even earlier, although the church as we see it today is largely the result of three phases of Victorian extension and transformation in 1849, 1864 and 1884. The Church Rooms were then added in 2000.

As part of our Cherish programme, a small group[1] tasked by the PCC at the request of the Ministry Team has started considering the building of St Mary’s and how that facilitates worship and mission in today’s society.  The group is considering all aspects of our life and use of St Mary’s now, and how this may change into the future. Within the context of ensuring that we respect and value the historic fabric of the building, the group is investigating:

  • how we currently use St Mary’s for services and other activities, and ways in which our worshipping and other needs may evolve
  • how welcoming, inclusive, accessible and safe our services and activities are and if that can be improved
  • the current condition of the building, its audio visual, heating and lighting systems and urgent and non-urgent improvements that may be needed
  • the environmental performance and energy efficiency of St Mary’s and ways in which that could be improved
  • whether there are ways that St Mary’s could be used more frequently during each week, both by our worshipping community and by the wider community we live in

The group reports to the PCC, and has access to an Advisory Group[2]. Over the past few months it has been busy gathering information to help inform its thinking and discussions. Work currently underway is explained in more detail below.

Work underway and completed to date

To help understand St Mary’s building as it is today, how it has changed over the centuries and the particular value and significance of the building and its contents, the group has obtained a Statement of Significance from a historic building specialist. This is an appraisal of the building, highlighting features of special significance in a 20+ page written report. This is a fascinating assessment of the fabric of the building which will help inform the group’s consideration of issues within the Cherish Building Project. If you would be interested to read it, a copy of the Statement of Significance can be obtained from the Church Office (in digital or hard copy).

The group has been liaising with the Ministry Team to understand how services at St Mary’s are currently planned and delivered, and how this could change in the future. This has included thinking about differing types of services and different ways we could potentially use the space available within St Marys in the future. The group has broadened this out into considering wider community needs and whether St Mary’s could play a larger role in accommodating more community uses and activities.

The organ and audio visual equipment in St Mary’s have also been a focus of the group’s work. Debbie Emmott-Dart has for some time been concerned that the organ at St Mary’s is not fully functioning and in need of potentially significant investment. The existing audio visual equipment was installed over ten years ago and with changes to IT and software systems over time there is a need to update and replace parts of the audio visual systems to make them fit for the future. The group has begun to consider how music and audio-visual systems could be improved as part of the overall project.

With the help of Revd Stephen Golding, the group has started exploring issues relating to inclusion and accessibility, visiting Treloar School and College and listening to its student’s perspectives. This is helping the group to see how the layout and use of spaces within the main body of the church can inhibit movement, access and inclusion for those with mobility problems and disabilities, whether young or older members of our church and the wider community. Students from Treloar have visited St Mary’s to undertake an audit of its accessibility and inclusion. Their report back afterwards identified an overall accessibility score of 55%, with a series of comments and recommendations for ways in which St Mary’s, the church rooms and churchyard could be made more accessible and more inclusive.

The group has commissioned specialist advice on the current condition of the heating, lighting and other systems and equipment within St Mary’s and ways in which this could be improved. With the help of Edward Chase the group is exploring the potential for renewable energy generation through the use solar panels.   Alongside the other advice, the group has commissioned a 3D survey of St Mary’s, to ensure that there is an accurate record of the church today, and retained advice from a specialist firm of Architects, Design Engine and through them Pritchard Architecture who are historic building specialists.

A final part of the group’s work has been to start to consider ways in which any changes that may be pursued could be funded and delivered. Whether small or large scale, short or long term, with increasing costs of materials and labour, any improvements or changes to the building and systems at St Mary’s will be likely to be expensive, and need a detailed and costed plan before any decisions about them could be made. This will require advice from the Quantity Surveyor and external advisers to help quantify the sums involved. There are a number of internal and external sources of funding that could potentially be available to contribute towards the cost of any works, including fundraising, grants, loans or match funding, with the potential for some contribution from St Mary’s existing funds and assets.

Thoughts and ideas from the Cherish Building Project work to date

From the work completed to date, the Cherish Building Project group is starting to bring together thoughts and ideas about St Mary’s, and discussing these with the PCC and with the Architects.

These are emerging ideas, and not final proposals. No decisions have yet been taken about whether these might be taken forward or not, and learning the views of our church community is an important part of the ongoing process. Any decisions on what, if any, changes may be taken forward would rest with the PCC initially, and will likely to need external permissions from the Diocese and other bodies before any changes could be implemented.

The group has described its current thoughts and ideas under the headings below.

Accessibility and inclusion for services and community use

  • Whilst St Mary’s is a welcoming church community, the layout and accessibility within the church excludes some from fully participating in services and activities
  • Circulation space between and within the pews is limited and steps can be a barrier to those with mobility problems, e.g accessing the High Altar for communion
  • There is a lack of available space for wheelchair users in locations where they feel part of the service
  • Less formal services and wider community use are constrained by the available space and fixed church layout
  • St Marys is actively used, on average, for less than 2 hours a week
  • A decision could be taken whether changes to the layout and use of the church could encourage more inclusive church services and wider community use of St Mary’s


  • The existing pews at St Mary’s are Victorian. These are supplemented by folding wooden and upholstered chairs for larger services and public events
  • Anecdotally, we understand that an increasing number of our worshipping congregation are finding the pews uncomfortable to sit on for long services, or concerts.
  • The fixed pews are narrow, and there have been health and safety incidents during services where they have caused significant challenges accessing and assisting someone taken unwell.
  • The fixed pews limit the available space for activities or community use within the church
  • A decision could be taken whether the Victorian pews could be removed and replaced with contemporary pews or chairs that are mobile, stackable and provide more comfortable seating.

Heating, power and lighting

  • The current heating system at St Mary’s is gas boiler powered. This is fossil fuel based, and increasingly costly to run as gas prices have increased. The system relies on wall and floor mounted radiators installed within and around the pews in St Marys
  • The existing power supply to the church is based in the Vestry and the systems require updating or replacing
  • There is the potential to include solar panels on some of the south facing roofs at St Mary’s, to produce electricity to help power the church’s system. The panels could be located to ensure they are not visually intrusive
  • Any solar system would generate electricity during the spring, summer and autumn, when electricity needs for heating and lighting St Mary’s are at their lowest, so surplus power could be sold to the grid. It would need to be supplemented by electricity from the grid during the winter when heating and lighting requirements are highest
  • There is the potential for the heating system to be updated with a more efficient gas boiler, which would enable the church’s heating needs to be met with less cost and environmental impact. If feasible, this could be combined with ground source or air source heat pump systems. Heating could be provided through wall mounted radiators,  radiant heaters or underfloor heating
  • The existing lighting at St Mary’s is a combination of older and more modern lighting, which is not as energy efficient as it could be, nor readily adaptable to suit different forms of services or types of wider community use. There are a wide range of lighting systems that could replace the existing.
  • A decision could be taken on whether St Mary’s should seek to replace its gas boiler heating system and install solar panels, and to replace its lighting with lower energy and more adaptable lighting

Organ and audio-visual

  • The existing organ is not fully functioning and will require significant investment to bring it back into full use, and will require maintenance on an ongoing basis
  • The costs of work on the organ are greater than the costs involved in purchasing and installing a replacement mobile digital organ
  • Modern digital organs produce sound quality better than the existing organ and are easier to maintain and use
  • The existing audio-visual system requires IT and software upgrades to bring it up to date and make it resilient for the future
  • The location of the audio visual system ‘desk’ at the rear of the side aisle could be improved
  • A decision could be taken whether to replace or repair the existing organ, and to upgrade and potentially relocate the audio visual system and ‘desk’  


  • There is a lack of available storage, and over time an increasing number of items of chairs, tables, desks and other items within the church which can give some areas a cluttered appearance
  • If any decision is taken to replace the existing organ with a mobile digital organ, there is the potential for the current organ area and storage cupboard to become available for re-use. This may then lead to a need for storage of the TV located behind the organ.
  • If any decision is taken to change seating, there would be a need for a stackable storage solution for contemporary pews or chairs to be identified and located
  • A decision could be taken to review storage both in the church and church rooms, rationalising and redesigning storage across the buildings

What if we do nothing?

Whilst the group has been considering issues and generating ideas, there is clearly an option not to address the issues that have been identified or to take advantages of some of the opportunities that the group considers could be taken. Over the course of its history, various groups over the centuries have always resisted this, and taken the initiative to ensure that St Mary’s looks to the future and is preserved for coming generations. 

The group believes that it now falls on the current generation to positively choose to do something. Given the wider challenges we face in the world (climate change), new technologies, societal change etc, and the range of issues that we have identified that need to be considered, as a consequence the scale of changes that may result could be quite significant.

Doing nothing may be seen as a ‘safe’ or easy option, but it remains a decision and choice that could be made. The group doesn’t consider it to be an appropriate response to the range of issues and opportunities that have been identified.  None of us wish to ignore the issues we face and risk St Mary’s starting to decline, or future generations looking back and asking why more was not done when the opportunity arose. We want to see a growing and thriving church at the heart of the community. 

Timescales and costs

We need to understand the views of our congregation and wider community before deciding the way forward for the Cherish Building Project. There are no firm timescales for when any future changes may take place, if they are ultimately approved by the PCC, and any necessary applications for external consents are submitted and approved.

Subject to feedback we receive, the Cherish Building Project group’s work would be expected to continue through 2024 and into 2025. It is not anticipated that the PCC would be asked to make decisions on the details of any changes before late 2024, with further consultation and any applications for external consents to follow into 2025. Some works could, subject to necessary consents, be taken forward as small scale projects – including lighting, the organ and audio visual system, and any solar panels, however there is a need to consider all potential changes ‘in the round’ as each interacts with and affects other issues under consideration by the group.

In terms of costs, the exploratory work being undertaken by the group is being funded by the PCC from existing budgets at the current time. If any proposals are to be taken forward, there will be a need to develop fully costed plans for any changes, and to identify detailed plans for fundraising, grants or loans towards their cost before any decision to proceed can be made.

How you can help – your feedback

The Cherish Building Project group wants to hear your views and comments, to help it to better understand St Mary’s and the way we use it today, and ideas you may have for the future.

If it would help you focus your thoughts then please consider answering one or more of the following questions, but please don’t limit your comments to these points – and do provide us with any feedback you would like to.

  • What do you like most about our worship and use of St Mary’s building currently ?
  • Is there anything you don’t like about St Mary’s building at the moment ?
  • Are there any changes that would make you feel more included and welcomed at St Mary’s?
  • If you could make any changes or improvements to the building and systems at St Mary’s what would they be, and why do you think they are important ?           
  • Are there any other comments you would like to make?

There are no right or wrong answers – this is a genuine and open opportunity to provide any comments or advice you would like to give, reflecting the issues that are being explored by the group.  You can email your feedback to , or post your comments back to the group via the church office, marked for the Cherish Building Project group.  The Cherish Building Project group would like to receive your comments and feedback by 31 July 2024, to help inform its ongoing work.

A summary of all of the feedback received will be made available, but the group will not identify any individual person’s comments by name, unless you indicate that you wish your views to be attributed to you.

If you have any queries, please contact or contact the Cherish Building Project group through the church office.

[1] The Cherish Building Project group’s membership is Joy Carter (Chair), Andy Blaxland, Rob Brown, Debbie Emmott-Dart, Laura Stevenson, Julie Young, and Paul Young

[2] The Advisory Group’s membership is Rev’d Paul Bradish, Rob Brown and Joanne Meharg