St. Mary’s Reordering

The PCC of St Mary’s is currently undertaking a Reordering process.  We’re undertaking this work to make the church building more usable in the 21st Century.  This is what every previous generation have done, by adapting the church building to suite their times.  We hope that this, in turn, will ensure the future of St Mary’s for the coming generations.

We’re planning to make a number of significant changes, including the provision of:

  • a servery for light refreshments
  • toilet facilities
  • a new under-floor heating system
  • tables and chairs, to supplement the pews that we will retain
  • storage spaces for spare furniture and equipment
  • a Nave altar
  • fixed display boards

We’ll be removing the rear and side pews, to allow more flexible use of the church space.  To make space for the Nave altar, we also need to remove some parts of the wall at the top of the Chancel steps.

The current Reordering process began in August 2012.  In summary, the sequence of events is as follows:

  • An initial meeting was held, which confirmed the idea of Reordering.
  • The Local Ministry Team prepared a ‘Statement of Needs‘. This document follows National guidelines, and summarises what we think we need to do, to ensure the future for St Mary’s, and why we think we need to do these things.
  • The ‘Statement of Needs‘ was presented to the Parish at an open meeting.
  • Having visited other churches who had recently carried out similar reordering works, we selected a firm of architects with whom we could work.
  • We appointed the architects, M+H Workshop, using the Statement of Needs as a brief.
  • The architects prepared an outline design, for consultation.
  • We held a number of consultations, to which the whole community was invited, which allowed us to refine the design.

The next stages will be as follows:

  • Working with the architects, we will finalise the design
  • The final design will be submitted to the Diocese of Gloucester, for approval, through the Faculty Process.
  • Any comments received during the Faculty process will be considered, and agreed changes made.
  • Once the Faculty is granted, contractors will be appointed.
  • The works will be carried out.

Obviously there is a significant cost to the proposed works.  They are likely to be in the order of £350,000, though the detailed costs are still to be estimated.  We have already raised some funds, and hope that a portion of costs will be covered by grant funding.  However, we are now starting on a significant fund-raising programme.  Current information is available here.


The term Reordering is one that is used by church governing bodies.  It is a wide ranging term, which includes changes to the layout of a church, its decoration, or its furniture, fixture & fittings.

Why are we Reordering?

A number of things made us think about Reordering:

  • We started serving tea & coffee in Church after the Sunday morning service, but we didn’t have any facilities for serving refreshments;
  • Our Messy Church service grew very rapidly, and needed us to move pews and tables around for every service;
  • The Wotton Concert Series, and other events, mean we need more flexible furnishings in Church;
  • There are no toilet facilities in Church, which means that people have to trudge up to the Parish Room.
  • Our current central heating radiators are quite ineffective, meaning the little heat that they do radiate is lost.

What do we plan to do?

The plans include the provision of:

  • a servery for light refreshments.  This will primarily be used for tea & coffee after services, breakfast for Messy Church and drinks during concerts.  We will occasionally serve meals, for example at our Shrove Tuesday Pancake Party and Harvest Festival, but we’ll only be serving pre-prepared meals.
  • toilet facilities.  The plan includes two separate cubicles, one of which will have enhanced facilities, and a baby changing table.
  • a new under-floor heating system, with a replacement boiler.  By operating the underfloor system at a low, constant temperature, the new system will be more efficient and effective than the existing limited radiators.
  • tables and chairs.  When the side and rear pews have been removed, we will use stackable chairs that can be put-out as and when required.
  • storage spaces for spare furniture and equipment.  This will include space to store new chairs and tables, when not in use.
  • a Nave altar, positioned at the top of the Chancel step.  By moving the celebration of the Eucharist to the body of the congregation, the president and people will be more able to celebrate together, this was always the intention of the Prayer Book.
  • fixed display boards, to allow us to better share information and Church news.

We’ll be removing some of the rear and side pews, to allow more flexible use of the church space.  Many of our current activities, and those which we might host in the future, are constrained by the existing number and spacing of pews.  With more free space, we can easily put out tables for craft activities or for serving of food.

To allow the Nave altar, we also need to remove some parts of the wall at the top of the Chancel steps.

Programme of Reordering Events

  • 29th August 2012: An initial meeting was held, with Jonathan MacKechnie-Jarvis, the secretary of the Gloucester Diocesan Advisory Committee.
  • May to August 2013: The Local Ministry Team prepared a ‘Statement of Needs‘.
  • 11th September 2013: The ‘Statement of Needs‘ was presented at an open meeting.
  • January 2014: ‘Reordering Committee’ convened, as a sub-committee of the PCC
  • March 2014: The Committee visited other churches who’d recently carried out similar reordering works
  • June 2014: M+H Workshop appointed.
  • October 2014: Initial ‘thoughts’ from M+H, to the Committee
  • November 2014: First presentation of outline design, for consultation.
  • January 2015: Presentation?
  • October 2015: ‘Come & Hear’ open meeting
  • We held a number of consultations, to which the whole community was invited, which allowed us to refine the design.

Millar+Howard Workshop

We appointed the Millar+Howard Workshop as our architects for the scheme.  This was mainly due to the work that they undertook in Horsley church, but after detailed discussions with them there were many good reasons to select them.

Faculty Process

Church of England buildings have ‘ecclesiastical exemption‘ from the local authority planning process.  However, they operate their own, equivalent process for granting permission to carry our wok, which is called a Faculty.

To apply for a Faculty, full details of the proposed works are submitted to the Diocesan Advisory Committee.  This is a panel of experts in all aspects of building conservation, who consider the plans in detail.  The plans are distribute to various heritage organisations, and notices are put-up around the Church.  Responses to these notices are considered by the DAC.

After a statutory period, the DAC will make a decision on the Faculty petition.  If they approve the application, then a Faculty will be granted.  If they do not approve the application, then it will be returned, and a further petition may be made once the comments have been reviewed.

Current Fundraising

The reordering fundraising campaign will be launched on Monday 14th March, at 7:30pm, in St Mary’s.

Brief Summary of Works in St Mary’s

The whole church was by no means complete at the time of its consecration in 1283, and the current building reflects many significant changes over the centuries.

The late Georgian and Victorian vicars were among the most significant ‘reorderers’; Rev William Tattersall, Rev Benjamin Perkins and Rev Henry Sewell each instituted major programmes of works.  These works removed significant features from the older building, and adapted the Church to suit the current needs of the congregation.  Many of most important medieval features of the building were lost in the process. The current interior of the church largely dates from 1885, and there have been no significant works in the main body of the church for more than 130-years

The table below gives a brief summary of some of the most significant changes that have taken place in St Mary’s over the past 730-years.

1283 Consecration of the existing building
(The current building was pre-dated by a previous building.  It is thought that the existing South doorway remains from this original building)
1325 Tower stages 1 &2 and East window complete
Late 1300’s Tower completed
1400s Roof raised for Clerestory Windows; aisle windows enlarged
1500s Nave roof replaced (as remains in Sanctuary)
1626 Galleries built in the base of the tower
1658 Porch restored and Parvis Room added
1700s Nave roof replaced and raised (again)
1763 Candelabra installed (initially in Nave; later moved to Chancel)
1778 Rev William Tattersall instituted
1780 Catherine chapel reconstructed to form vestry
1800 Plaster ceiling added to the Nave, with ribs, bosses and three floral bosses.

Galleries extended to allow the installation of the Organ (bought in 1799 from St Martin in the Fields for £200) in the tower gallery

1805 Plaster ceilings in side Aisles added
1829 Rev Benjamin Perkins instituted
1838 Major reordering:

Chancel arch and screens demolished, eastern two bays extended, raised chancel roof, Sanctuary modified and reduced to its present form.

Three light window over the chancel arch added.

Demolished 18c 3-decker pulpit, old oak pews, mayor’s mace, royal arms

1840 Sacristy built, to NE corner
1841 New Font installed (dedicated on 28th Dec); old font sold to Leighterton
1873 Stained glass window over sanctuary (chancel) arch added
1881 Rev Henry Sewell instituted
1883 Chancel stained glass windows added
1882-5 Major reordering:

Organ moved to SE corner & galleries demolished.  New pulpit & lectern added, together with the low level chancel wall and railings. 

Chancel floor raised and choir stalls added. 

Charity boards move to Sacristy.  Current pews added.

Wall monuments moved to south wall, destroying medieval picture of St Christopher.

1889 West stained glass window and Catherine chapel NW stained glass window added
1901 Catherine chapel W stained glass window added
1902 High altar reredos and south aisle stained glass window added
1903 Rev Henry Sewell left
1914 North aisle stained glass window added
1920 Catherine chapel NE & N stained glass windows added
1928 Catherine chapel restored with widened archway
1932 Communion rails added to Sanctuary
1980s Flower cupboard built and screen to choir vestry added
1989 South porch stained glass windows added
2009 Catherine Chapel reordered; altar moved to All Saint’s Chapel