* 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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org