Update on Romsey Abbey Development Project, March 2015

Although it may have seemed quiet, over the last year the PCC has been busy thinking about all the exciting ideas for the Abbey Development Project generated by the groups that use the Abbey and Church Rooms. The Vicar gave an informal presentation over coffee to the Abbey congregation on 1st March.

Thanks to the hard work of Diane Hargreaves and Neill Beasley we have, pulled together the many thoughts and ideas of our community and been able to develop the Concept Plans. These are not, at this stage, ‘designs’: they are the ideas, opportunities and suggestions that will form the basis of a Design Brief to be given to an architect in due course to work up into suitable designs.

Bearing in mind the need for preservation of Heritage, the provision of educational facilities and the enhancement of visitor experience, it has been suggested that a phased approach to the development would be less disruptive to life in and around the Abbey.

Proposed Concept

Outside. A re-created Cloister Garden will provide areas for sheltered peace and relaxation. A single-storey Cloister alongside the Abbey south wall will form a link between the South Door and the Abbess’ Door. Within this the story of the Abbey can be told through displays and the provision of an exhibition space. The eastern end of this Cloister would also provide protection for the Saxon Rood.

Between the South Door and the Church Rooms, the nunnery’s two-storey western range would be re-created. The ground floor would accommodate washrooms, a small kitchen and access to the upper floor song room/multifunctional meeting space.

On the north side of the church with careful and sensitive design there might be a new storage building for staging etc. A level entrance into the north aisle could be made through one of the Victorian bays and it is proposed that this could be ‘dropped in’ with minimum impact on the existing structures.

Inside the Church. The current Choir Vestry has important medieval wall paintings which are in urgent need of conservation and restoration. It is proposed that this will be used as a ‘Scriptorium’, a place to present the Abbey’s archives and artefacts, with internet facilities for study and learning. It could also be used as an area of quiet for private prayer and counselling.

Running across the west end of the church, a gallery is proposed, making good use of glass and light. On the northern side of this, under the Triforium and above a remodelled shop, would be the Gallery Room, an enclosed glazed multifunctional space that could be used for displays, exhibitions, a teaching area for school visits, meeting room or lecture room, separate from but still part of the main church. Access to the gallery would be via stairs and a lift.

The existing Church Rooms would be refurbished and enhanced to make better use of existing space and create facilities which better meet the requirements of the present and future. The full re-development of this site is an option to be looked at in due course.

The next stage

We will continue consultation, both locally and with the Diocese, English Heritage and the Local Authorities, refining the design brief based on on-going feedback and consultation. We need to develop a Business Plan to ensure that any development is financially viable in the longer term.

A copy of the presentation made at the meeting can be viewed below, please note there is no sound.

The PCC will start planning a Fundraising Campaign in due course. Organisations such as English Heritage are expected to be supportive of the project.

All feedback through the Vicar, Churchwardens, Parish Office or PCC will be welcomed.