Re-opening Winwick Church
It was so lovely at 2pm yesterday afternoon to be part of a village community and to be able to join in with celebrating the re-opening of our church. Whether you’re a churchgoer or not, a church is a part of what makes a town or village what it is. Winwick Church is a local landmark, easily recognised from the M62 motorway and even before we lived in Winwick, seeing it always made me feel that I was home.
We live close enough to walk to the church and decided it would be a good idea to do that in case the small car park was busy. We set off in plenty of time for the re-opening service so that we would be able to find a seat and although that turned out to be harder than we thought, we were delighted to see that the church was full. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the church this full before, and I was really pleased that so many people had turned out.
We eventually found ourselves a space right over in the corner next to the Legh Chapel where we’d been cleaning the week before. Small daughter was pleased to note that her beautifully mopped floor still looked good, and my husband and big daughter cast a critical eye over their work on the wrought iron and were pleased that they didn’t spot any places they had missed. You can see here just how many people there were – and there were still people coming in! Some ended up sitting in the Chancel which is away to the right, others had to stand at the back and the sides. I felt that it was a wonderful acknowledgement of the work that Reverend June and the rest of the church community have put in, and whilst nobody expects the church to be as busy every week, it was right that it was yesterday.
From our side vantage point, I could see parts of the church that I’ve never looked at before. Another angel tucked up high in the ceiling …
A stained glass window that I pass every day in the car but have never really looked at. (That’s not a wooden TARDIS on the left, it’s the porch door 🙂 )
Stone arches and the refurbished ceiling; whenever we’ve been to services in the church we’ve tended to sit in the main aisle so we’ve always looked forwards, never across the church. It’s a good view, although we might look a bit strange if we chose to sit here again when there was space in the middle!
When the service began, it was apparent just how much a part of the community the church is. The school choir sang, the village Brownie pack were there, the Mayor of Warrington, our local MP and other visiting dignitaries, even the architects and roofing contractors. The whole service felt joyous and inclusive, and also a momentous event for our little village. Afterwards there was tea and cake in the church hall (such an English thing to do!) and I am sure the celebrations continued for quite some time amongst the church committee who will have been mightily relieved that the work was finished and everything went so well.
Now that the church has been restored, the intention is for it to be used for a wider range of community activities than it had been previously. There is a new stage area (that’s the red carpeted area in this picture) which can be set up for concerts and talks, lighting and good sound system so that now the church can be a unique venue for all kinds of events. A large proportion of the work was paid for the Heritage Lottery Fund who have secured an agreement with the church that it will be open for at least 40 days of the year when services aren’t in progress so that people can visit to look around. The dates of the open days and more info about hiring the church for an event can be found on the church’s website here.
After being closed for seven years, it’s really wonderful to see our church open again. Definitely one of the joys of village life.