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  Reprinted from Newsletter 115, dated 2005 May

Methodist church gets an interior refurbishment Martyn Webb

The first serious thoughts of refurbishing the Lambrook Street Methodist Church came in the 1980s, but at that time there was a vote to improve the hall at the back instead.

   In October 2001 a clear decision was made to alter the main church. The first surveyor dropped out of the project for work reasons and we used the time to let the present design evolve and improve. Much consultation took place in an effort to keep all church members involved. Small steering groups were set up to co-ordinate the project, to work with our second architect and to suggest colour schemes. The walls are painted in cream, and the blue carpet and aqua-coloured chair seats echo the colours in the stained-glass windows.

The interior of the church before the refurbishment. Photo by Mary Powell

   The original interior had two narrow entrance doors to match the aisles between pews — so narrow that newlyweds had to leave the church in single file! Sometimes large coffins had to be left in the entrance because the doorway was too narrow.

   The new entrance has double glass doors opening centrally. The aisle can be placed wherever it is needed, as all the pews have been removed and the floor levelled (two of the pews are now in the chapel at the Wells Road cemetery). We now have a flexible, comfortable interior, with a raised area for the preachers in conventional services, or for music and drama. Some of the 70 new chairs have arms and some do not, to satisfy all requirements.

   A new communion table and two lecterns are on the way to replace the original pulpit and lectern. We hope that they will be ready for our service of dedication on May 8.

The dark pews have gone, replaced by a blue carpet and movable chairs. Instead of two narrow aisles there is a central door at the rear. Along the south wall, a wheelchair ramp leads to the church hall. Photo by Jim Nagel

   We have tried to make the interior as disabled-friendly as possible: a ramp on the south side leads to the church hall, which in turn leads to newly refurbished toilets, including one for wheelchair users. The possibility of making the path from Lambrook Street up to the front door more accessible to wheelchairs is being investigated, but the fact that there is a reservoir under the grass does not help!

   We are planning an open day on Saturday June 25 — we hope that many of you will come and see our beautiful new interior.

   History: The church, built of local lias stone, was consecrated in 1847; the next generation added the schoolroom behind. The church stands within the Glastonbury conservation area but surprisingly is not a listed building despite lovely features — visitors come from Australia to see stained glass dedicated to their great-great-grandparents.

   Previously, the site was a large pond fed by Bovetown springs and used as a “cartwash” (Cart Lane, where they lined up waiting their turn, is now Silver Street). After the ducking of a notorious scold nearly drowned her, the pond was filled in. The springs are contained in a beautifully built bricked reservoir with arched roof extending 25 feet under the left lawn back to the wall of the church. Bristol Water offered the reservoir to the church for £1; the offer was declined. For emergency water, the fire brigade holds the key to a steel door at the street.

   Undoing pews: Street parish church, opposite Strode College, had a similar interior makeover in 2003. St John’s in Glastonbury is also mooting the removal of pews to make a flexible open space — as it was in the beginning, till nearly 1700.


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