As many of you know, we are looking at how developing the Church Rooms and South Garth could benefit Romsey, our Parish and the heritage of our Abbey.
The proposed project, if it goes ahead will help our Abbey serve the community, with improved facilities for education, providing better resources for local schools and special interest groups, and Pilgrims from further afield.
The Abbey is also an important heritage site, treasures such as the Saxon Rood are falling into disrepair, and would benefit from protecting with a small Cloister on the site of the original Norman one, this would also give us the opportunity to re-open the Abbesses doorway and create a ‘sacred space’ around the Rood.
Developing the Church Rooms would also enable the Abbey to offer additional space and flexible, improved facilities to the many Church and community groups, who meet there. The men’s, boys and girls choirs could benefit from a new Song Room, which would enable the quiet enclosed Chapel, which is currently being used as a Choir vestry to become a place of reflective worship for those who may need this.
There are also plans for a visitor centre and the provision of exhibition spaces for the creative arts, education and community groups. Improved visitor facilities such as toilets and cloakrooms, would also enable the Abbey with important projects, like the recent dinner, which raised over £35,000 for the Philippines appeal.
At this early stage we have no architects plans available. If the project is viable, we will obtain a number of proposals from architects, exhibit them in the Abbey and invite comments from the whole community.
Report from Rob Gower, project co-ordinator: We have looked at the options and examined the opportunities and constraints not only of developing various parts of the South Garth but also the development of the Church Rooms site.
Our initial conclusions are that we would like to re-develop the Church Rooms and create covered access to the Abbey, whilst retaining access to the Garth. The new buildings would not only create additional community space and facilities but also a new song room. Re-creating part of the Norman cloister would provide protection for the Saxon Rood and also enable the Abbess’ Doorway to be opened and brought back into the life of the Abbey.
We are awaiting two key documents: Firstly, a Feasibility Study. This is being developed by the Abbey Architect, Michael Drury, and will provide clear guidance as to the types of development that are technically possible, together with their estimated costs. Secondly, a Resources Study. This is being carried out by our Fundraising Consultant, Stefan Lipa. He has interviewed around 30 key stakeholders from within the Abbey and the wider communities of Romsey. He is establishing the level of support for the project and a realistic figure that a fundraising campaign might raise.
Both of these reports will be presented in mid-January and the PCC will discuss them at a special meeting on 1st February. They should have sufficient information to be able to make an informed decision as to whether we have a viable project to take forward to the next stage and, if so, what form it should take.
If you are interested in being kept up to date on progress by email please contact Fiona Jenvey: Fiona@jenvey.info
For any queries or suggestions to Rob Gower, please email the Parish Office.
Please note, whilst we welcome comments on this update, no comments will appear on the website itself.