Internal Alterations to an Existing Victorian Church

Client: PCC St. Paul’s Church, Carlton
Completed: 2005
Budget: £300,000

This is a High Victorian, Grade II Listed church, designed in 1891 by W.A. Coombs for the 4th Earl of Caernarvon. The church sits on a hill overlooking the town centre. The design uses red brick with ashlar and yellow terracotta dressings. The nave is of a Romanesque Basilica style and interior finishes includes polychromatic brickwork details.

The vision was to use the large Victorian building to provide community facilities, whilst retaining the worship area largely in its present form. A key element of the brief was to engage the community group who would use the building, to develop the ideas and proposals together. This encouraged the community to take ownership of the project and guide the future of the church. We used plans, models and perspective views to discuss, explain and develop the design with the congregation, Diocese (Concillatory Court) and the funders.

Part of the re-ordering involved the sanding of the pine block floorings, which required the removal of the fixed pews. Early in the design process fixed seating was identified as being a hindrance to modern worship and the desired flexible use for concerts, drama and conference facilities. Carpet pads were fixed to the underside of the supporting timbers. The original pews could therefore be retained, whilst allowing them to be moved as required, to suit the use. The removal and disposal of two choir stalls on each side of the chancel allowed for the front stall and seat to be repositioned to the sides of the chancel. This created a large open chancel, amply suited to providing many functions, including a central position for the portable alter table. Oak screens were fitted sympathetically between the existing polychromatic brickwork arches to separate the aisles from the main nave. These screens allowed for community rooms and a café to be created from underused space.