Steyning Methodist Church
The pews had finally had their day! This is the story of the refurbishment of the church beginning in February 2001.
We began to find more and more that we were limited in our worship by the layout of the pews, and we took the reluctant decision to replace them with chairs. Reluctant only because this would inevitably change the 'feel' of the building, but we were looking forward to sitting comfortably during sermons.
Work started on the 5 February 2001. The first step was to strip out the pews, which were sold as a job lot to a commercial buyer, apart from two which were bought individually by members of the congregation. This revealed the raised floor sections each side of the two aisles, which we decided to reduce to the same level as the aisles in order to provide a safe surface for chairs.The area behind the communion rail would remain raised and the pulpit would stay in the same position. Everything else had to come up.
With the first of the floorboards up and the raised joists removed, you can see the five longitudinal brick piers which supported the floor. These seemed to be in good enough condition to leave untouched, but new joists had to be inserted to span the gaps.
The large void area under the floor gave us plenty of scope for laying new mains wiring and for tidying up the PA/loop aerial system wiring, but we also intended to add new large skirting board sections around the walls containing hidden trunking. This would enable us to extend the electrical system in future, but we would still need to plan that area carefully before the new floor goes down. After all, once it is down we want it to stay there for another 125 years!
The new floor joists were in position and levelled by 15 February. The new floorboards can be seen in the pile in the centre of the Church with the pulpit moved to one side on what remained of the old floor.
Most of the electrical cabling had already been laid in position by this stage, but there were still a few loose ends which had to be sorted out while the floor was being laid, which needed someone small to reach the more inaccessible spots. This was a job for young Stuart, who leapt at the chance and can just be seen at left laying out the cables in the corner under the organ. He earned the nickname of "The Mole" whilst he was doing it.
they arrived! The volunteers turned out to carry them up the path from the delivery van and to arrange them in the Church. This took longer than we had thought, because we had many more options. We tried out lines, arches, and even considered how to arrange them for a service in 'the round'. We also tried to allow room for a bridal procession, and tried to pre-empt any 'access' requirements to allow for emergency evacuation. Our estimates were not far off, but we probably have a few more chairs than we can comfortably fit in at one go. This is the right side to be though to allow for those days when we have a full Church. (Yes, they do happen!)
The final milestone was a special service of re-dedication on Sunday 15 April 2001, at which we hid a 'time capsule' under the floor. We hope it will be discovered by a whole new generation of Steyning Methodists many years in the future.
The change also would enable us to hold some services in the round, or allow us to arrange a single central aisle - a long-standing complaint about our Church for weddings.