Refurbishment for the New Millennium.
At St John's, we have recently reached the end of a major refurbishment programme. Its aim has been to retain its character whilst making it more suited to 21st century needs. Photographs of the interior of the chapel as it is now are here, and as it was during the renovations here.
Throughout the 80's and 90's we increasingly found our fixed box pews restricted the worship activities that could take place. Then a crisis arose from the building inspection of 1991, which revealed a severe deterioration of the joists under the floor. At the same time, the national “Disability Act” rightly required public buildings to provide easy access and facilities for disabled people. Our solution is a pleasant new extension on the rear southwest corner of the building, housing a porch and disabled toilets.
This did not however solve the problem of the floor. In1995 various the managing trustees proposed selling the Sunday school and adjoining land whilst fundraising in the hope of raising enough to build new facilities at the rear of the chapel. However a buyer could not then be found. So, the building was promoted more vigorously for community use, and the chapel improved. Finally, in 1999, our architects drew up plans to replace the church floor, create a new porch and alter the north entrance.
At the same time it was agreed to remove the old pulpit, the fixed communion rail and replace some pews with chairs. A new PA system and improved heating was also to be installed and some stained glass repaired. Interestingly, when the old floor was removed it was found that the “joists” were actually the rims of cartwheels which spanned the supporting walls.
The work began in October 2000 and the chapel was reopened on chapel anniversary March 2001 by Mrs Janet Wheatcroft, our (then) oldest member. Since reopening, the refurbishments have proved their worth and the building is now far more flexible and user friendly.
Since then, additional improvements have been made - new lighting, including emergency lighting, has been added, a new digital piano purchased and the pipe organ overhauled.
The grounds were renovated in 2005/6, during which time a factory token dated 1812 was found on the northwest corner of the chapel. It was issued by the British Copper Company in order to pay workers. During the Napoleonic wars factory tokens often replaced small change. This would have been placed there by a “visitor of note” as a good luck tally for the chapel. To continue the tradition a new 2p piece dated 2006 was placed under the re-laid new path. Also found was a small medallion in commemoration of the wedding of HRH Duke of York and the Princess Mary of Teck who were married on July 6th 1893. Part of the grounds have also been developed as a wildlife garden as a pleasant and secluded place for visitors or passers by to rest awhile.
The Sunday school building.
Improvements continued with the the kitchen being refurbished in 2010.
However, at its meeting on October 14th 2012 the Church Council decided with great regret that it the Sunday School building should be sold. The main reason for this was the considerable loss of rental income due to fewer bookings for reasons outside their control. Thus the decision for closure at the end of 2013 was purely a financial one. It was subsequently bought and converted into a children's nursery for Hayfield and nearby villages.
It should be stressed that this in no way affected the Chapel which remains in use as it now is – although small changes, such as the removal of the remaining central pews to make it more multi-purpose have since happened. The Church also retains sufficient land to enable a smaller hall and meeting rooms to be built, should circumstances change.
Our work with children and young people, such as Messy church, etc. continues.
|Photo galleries : [The Chapel 2000] ; [The Chapel Now] ; Events Archive|