Stanton church is throwing open its doors to the community after taking out some of its traditional pews and making it more welcoming for local groups.

The church has spent £200,000 replacing the pews, building a new kitchenette and installing new heating.

East Anglian Daily Times: Stanton Church has been made more flexible for community use.Stanton Church has been made more flexible for community use. (Image: Keith Mindham/Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich)

The church is disposing of 21 old Markham pews and replacing them with wooden chairs so that it can create a ‘‘welcoming, warm and wonderful space at the heart of our community, open and accessible to everyone.’’

East Anglian Daily Times: Rev Cathy Bladen in Stanton Church.Rev Cathy Bladen in Stanton Church. (Image: Keith Mindham/Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich)

Rev Cathy Bladen, Rector of eight rural churches including Stanton, said: ‘‘Removing the pews from the central nave area will enable us to use the space for all kinds of services.

‘‘The chancel area and the choir stalls will remain unchanged and so will the side chapel area although these will now have under pew heating.

‘‘We are having new radiant heaters installed, a kitchenette built into the west wall which will be cupboarded so when it’s not in use it will just look like lovely oak cupboards. 

“Our existing porch door will have a large glass door fitted in front of it, to keep the church much warmer and also to enable folk to see into the church before stepping in.

‘‘Also we’re planning an extension out from the original north door to accommodate a toilet, with disabled access, baby changing area and a new flat level entrance leading on to the Church Rooms car park.” 

The work at Stanton comes as St Edmundsbury Cathedral is preparing to replace its pews with chairs to create a more flexible community space.

Rev Bladen added: ‘‘The aim is to make the building as hospitable and as friendly as possible with people taking ownership of their church. 

“We have a wonderful flexible space to worship in – and now we can use it in all types of ways, to support our community.’’

She hopes she can obtain funding from the diocesan Growing in God fund to finance a families’ and children’s worker to help with these projects.

Costs have increased on average by a over a third. For example, the original budget for the chairs was £5,000 but this has increased to £9,000 since original estimates before Covid.