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 who works half his week on our project and half for Ripon Cathedral. In the meantime the project architects PPIY of York have been finalising the plans which are now awaiting building regs approval from Harrogate BC. A tendering exercise will follow approval and work is expected to start in early summer. Construction work should take 4 months but the restoration work may be somewhat longer as three of the windows will need to be removed to renew lead and stone work. The decorative script and stencilling will require erection of a scaffold tower for a time.
The main funding source for these works comes from the Heritage Lottery Fund with a substantial contribution from WREN Landfill Trust and a number of smaller grants and donations.