LETTER: Longthorpe Church changes spark concern for Peterborough Civic Society

Revd Jacqueline Bullen at her institution as vicar of Longthorpe at St Botoph's Church pictured with Bishop Donald
Revd Jacqueline Bullen at her institution as vicar of Longthorpe at St Botoph's Church pictured with Bishop Donald
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The Peterborough Civic Society was dismayed to learn of the decision to grant a faculty for the drastic re-ordering of St Botolph, Longthorpe – to the extent of the virtual destruction of its predominant present internal character – in the teeth of considered objections from national and consultative statutory bodies.

The distinctive character of the interior of St Botolph’s is decidedly late Victorian/early 20th century.

All of the significant fittings – spanning a period of about 50 years through to the rood screen installed during World War I – sitting very comfortably together visually beneath Alfred Sykes’ fine Victorian nave roof structure.

Moreover, this ensemble also relates happily to the 13th century arcades, external walls and fenestration.

The Society appreciates that the Ecclesiastical Exemption precludes its formal involvement in either the development of schemes for re-ordering and the like, or any real opportunity to respond, at least until it is too late.

It is our understanding, however, that this proposal was initiated a number of years ago.

Many seem to have believed it had died something of a natural death beneath the weight of its own insensitivity.

One is left wondering how the Diocesan Advisory Committee could have come to the view that the late 19th and early 20th century contributions to St Botolph’s could be so summarily discarded.

We had believed such attitudes to Victorian and Edwardian work had been overcome half a century and more ago.

It is our hope that even at this late juncture reason might prevail and that an attempt can be made to find a more modest and sensitive approach; one which might secure wider acceptance in both the parochial and secular community.

The need to create a more flexible space at the head of the nave – not least to permit more seemly manoeuvrability at funeral services, but also, if deemed essential, to allow a forward altar position – would seem perfectly possible without having to resort to wholesale destruction of the interior. This Society would be happy to enter into any discussions directed to that end.

David Jost

Peterborough Civic Society