Sudbury: Historic St Gregory’s Church to undergo modernisation

St Gregory's Church in Sudbury

St Gregory's Church in Sudbury

INITIAL plans to install modern conveniences in a church with a recorded history dating back as far as AD970 have been presented to Sudbury town councillors.

St Gregory’s Church on the Croft has a regular congregation of around 130 parishioners, and it is estimated that a further 6,000 people use the church each year for events such as baptisms, weddings, funerals, school services and the annual Remembrance Day service.

The church’s minister, the Rev Canon Gregory Webb, told members of Sudbury’s leisure and environment committee the church also attracted casual visitors who came to see Simon of Sudbury’s head, which is displayed in the church vestry.

However the church, which is open from 9am to 5pm daily all year round, currently has no toilet facilities and parts of the building, including the vestry, are being marred by clutter and damp.

Under a proposal currently with the Diocesan Advisory Committee, two toilet cubicles would be installed in the tower area, with storage cupboards in between and a new screen at the front of the tower.

Old cupboards on the church’s west wall in the north aisle would be replaced with oak storage units housing a water heater, sink, dish-washer and crockery to create a “servery” for refreshments.

To remedy the damp and storage issues in the vestry, a mezzanine floor would be fitted and the lower area would then be used as an office and meeting room.

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Mr Webb said: “The strap-line of St Gregory’s is ‘your community, your church’ which acknowledges the role that the church has in the town.

“Recognising its importance, the decision was made five years ago to improve the building and make it ‘fit for purpose’ while maintaining its historic significance. If accepted, our plans will see three major improvements to the church building, which will only enhance its use as a building for the whole community.”

Although the floor has been repaired, damaged pews have been replaced with chairs and a new sound system has been installed at the church, Mr Webb said no major refurbishment work had taken place there during the past century.

Over the past three years, the church has held meetings with the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC), English Heritage and the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings.

The DAC is being consulted on the current draft plans and if agreed, they will then be submitted with an application for a ‘faculty’ which is required before any alterations may be made to a consecrated building or burial ground.