St John’s Sharow is Grade 2 listed and although not of great age contains a number of important items of heritage. The nave and tower were dedicated and consecrated in 1825 with a chancel and chapel added in 1870’s. It is the only substantial public facility in the village and as such has been a focus for community activities over many years.
However, as we moved into the third millennium it became increasingly apparent that the building didn’t meet current and future needs. The catalyst for change was a catastrophic failure of the heating system and the church community embarked on a ‘Vision Project’ to reorder the building; the intention being to transform its use for worship and for community events and activities. Key words which have informed the Vision Project from its inception are: a ‘welcoming environment’, an ‘outward focus’, ‘flexible space’ and ‘fit-for-purpose’ whilst ‘enhancing the beauty of what we have inherited’.
Phase 1 of the Vision Project was completed in March 2014 and comprised:
- installing a new York stone floor with under floor heating
- replacing the fixed Victorian pews with comfortable, attractive loose chairs
- insulation of the loft space above the nave ceiling
- LED luminaires mounted on bespoke copper and aluminium pendants
- a new sound system
- a new oak dais, set between the Victorian pulpit and lectern
- removal of a Victorian reredos which partially obscured the nationally significant east window.
The cost of Phase 1 was substantially met through generous donations from the church and local community.
Phase 2. From the outset of the Vision Project we recognised that we would need two phases to achieve our goals and in 2014 we received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to develop the following proposals in more detail.
- New and innovative learning resources to help people of all ages engage with the heritage.
- Carrying out some essential restoration of the stained glass and decorative wall script
- Developing the building and external areas to:
- convert part the field opposite the church into car park (The PCC purchased a 90 year lease on the land.)
- Equality Act compliant access into the building with bollard lighting to the paths
- construction of a new single-storey extension to the north west comprising a kitchen with servery into the nave, three toilets (including disabled) and a store room.
- Conversion of the side chapel into a multi-purpose room
- New glass entrance doors providing better insulation and a more welcoming approach
Phase 2 commenced in November 2016 with the appointment of Heritage Learning Officer. The project entered the construction stage under project architects PPIY of York in September 2017, the works being completed in February 2018.
The project has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund with match funding from WREN Landfill Trust, the All Churches Trust, Yorkshire Historic Churches Trust, the Sir John Priestman Trust and a number of smaller grants and donations.
We now have equality access via both South and West doors; much improved facilities in the new North West extension; a well appointed meeting room and side chapel (now known as the Graham Gilbert room in honour of Graham’s considerable contribution to the whole Vision Project); impressively restored stain glass windows and conserved wall stencilling and script.
Our Heritage Learning Officer has worked closely with experts to make St John’s churchyard a considerable resource for conservation work.
For the forthcoming WW1 centenary we have metal figures in the churchyard which prrovide a poignant reminder of that conflict.