* The present interior of St Collen's Church.
Llangollen’s parish church of St Collen’s has been awarded almost £95,000 by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to kick-start an ambitious scheme to adapt the historic place of worship to meet the needs of the 21st century.
The Genesis Project aims to make a number of alterations to the fabric of the building, which dates back to the seventh century, including taking away pews to make a space for a stage platform which will enable the church to host more plays, concerts and school nativities.
There is also a desperate need for toilet facilities and better heating and lighting to generally allow the building to have more flexibility and inclusivity, creating a community hub which can be enjoyed by a variety of local organisations and also making it more accessible to the many visitors it attracts.
The scale of the project means that the group leading it has sought grant assistance from a number of sources but mainly the National Lottery Heritage Fund which has just agreed to make available £94,886 for the first phase of the work to be carried out over the next 12 months.
Priest-in-charge of St Collen’s Father Lee Taylor said: “We are absolutely delighted to hear that the Heritage Fund has made this substantial grant available to us.
“It will enable us to at last start work on our long-standing vision to re-order the church in a way that will enable it to better meet the needs of the current century.
“We have gone to great lengths to ensure that the transformation is carried out in a way which is entirely respectful of the many historic assets of the building and which will allow parishioners and visitors to more easily access and admire them.
“That includes the glorious medieval hammerbeam ceiling and its priceless carvings and the legendary Ladies of Llangollen’s tomb in the churchyard.”
Father Lee has in the past warned that unless it adapts to meet modern requirements St Collen’s – from which the town of Llangollen takes its name - could share the same fate as places of worship across Britain which have been forced to close unless it makes a number of changes to create a more “flexible and inclusive” building for the community.
He said: “We have to move forward in order to meet the social and spiritual needs of the 21st century and to do that we need to make these changes.
“Over the decades the Church generally has seen a downward trajectory in attendances and this has meant that a number of churches in Wales and in England have had to close. We don’t want that to happen here at St Collen’s.
“The church has always been the focal point of the community and is always here to serve the needs of the community.
“In wide consultations on the Genesis Project which the team has carried out over the past few years there was widespread approval and support for what we aiming to achieve with our re-ordering.”
* Anyone wanting to find out more about the project or to become involved with it is asked to email the project team at: email@example.com