St Margaret’s Church Proposed Development Project – A Statement from the Vicar
The whole purpose of the project is to make the church – unarguably one of the most significant historic buildings in the village – more open and accessible for our congregation and the wider local community. It is driven by the need for urgent repairs to the main floor space of the church and to provide more suitable lavatory accommodation (including an accessible toilet and baby-change facilities), a kitchen and a new meeting room which can be used independently of the main church. This is especially important when considering the rising costs of heating and lighting – our energy bills are eye-watering. The original proposal was not rejected but withdrawn by us so that we could address the comments and concerns of residents raised at the time, which we have.
Concerts and other artistic and social events are held at the church throughout the year, as are regular services, weddings, funerals and other occasions when large numbers of people want to come together. Those who are able will walk to church (or use mobility scooters) or public transport. We do not envisage what is effectively the addition of a kitchen, a new office and a second meeting room having a significant impact on parking issues in the village in real terms – the issue of an additional 25 parking spaces is a technicality. The original extension to the left of the main door was added to the church building in 1974 and anyone who has visited recently will have seen that there is a real need for upgrade and improvement.
For those who are concerned about the enclosure (not covering) of two windows on the north side of the church: William Morris died in 1896; Edward Burne-Jones died in 1898. In the revised proposal the only ‘historic’ window that will be enclosed in the corridor with a glazed ceiling (and additional back-lighting if necessary) commemorates someone who died in 1901 and which was installed some time after. The window is of the ’school’ or factory of William Morris but not by the man himself. Unfortunately, and in error, it was referred to as a Burne-Jones window in the planning application. The second window that would be enclosed was installed in 2004 to commemorate the Millennium.
In terms of need for internal space, we are pleased to report that attendance numbers are almost at the point they were pre-pandemic. We have welcomed new members, and the number of people engaging with St Margaret’s is steadily increasing.
St Margaret’s is a registered charity. We receive no income from the Church of England or the Diocese of Chichester, to whom, in fact, we pay over £74,000 per year to support ministry costs. That’s before the financial burden of maintaining and repairing a Grade 2* listed building and the surrounding churchyard, utility bills, insurance and day-to-day running expenses. Our money comes from the generous giving of our congregations, church fees, the donations of visitors and occasional grants. As with any charity or business just now, times are not easy.
Our proposal, which would be unseen from The Green and funded by the recent sale of a property (which we sold through an open process and above asking price, and which, apparently, needs half a million pounds spending on it which we simply do not have), two generous legacies and additional donations, seeks to maintain the beauty and dignity of the church as a place of worship and also provide contemporary facilities on the same site to enable the church to be used and enjoyed by the local community for many more years to come.
The Rev’d Dr Anthony Moore
Vicar of Rottingdean
9 June 2022