I read with amazement Stewart Jackson’s article about St Botolph’s Church’s planned changes to its internal layout.
The headline “Bulldozing in name of modernity” is alarmist to say the least.
I have been a member of St Botolph’s since 1972, living in Longthorpe until 1998, then continuing to worship there each week since moving to Castor.
During this 45 years we have seen several changes to the building, including a modern extension, to provide better accommodation for our very active parish.
In recent years we have recognised the need for greater flexibility inside the main body of the church. Several years ago a committee was set up to examine the ways we could bring this about.
The current reordering proposals are the result of a great deal of work by this committee, who have carefully considered all options, to respond to the needs of the parish.
Stewart Jackson’s article implies that St Botolph’s PCC is unaware of the treasure it has in its 13th century building.
Rest assured, Mr Jackson, we have no intention of damaging our ancient heritage.
When the church was built the congregation stood to worship.
This was felt to be too uncomfortable for the Victorians, who installed the pews in the later part of the 19th century.
These pews are fixed and unmovable. The proposal is to replace them with chairs, not Showcase recliners as Mr Jackson stated, but stackable chairs, which can be moved. This will give us access to the space when needed.
The proposal to move the altar is in line with current thinking in the Church. It will enable the priest to face the congregation during communion, to make it a more shared experience.
Removing the Victorian rood screen will take away the suggested separation of priest and congregation in communion, again in line with current Church of England thinking.
Mr Jackson should visit the many ancient churches in the Diocese which have removed the Victorian pews.
He should talk to their parishioners and find out how much this has benefitted these congregations before he makes such sweeping condemnation based on little knowledge of the facts.
Come to a service at St Botolph’s, Mr Jackson, meet us and find out what you are objecting to. You will be made very welcome.