A Letter from Nantwich

May 2016

New look for church after the re-ordering

THE interior of St Mary's Parish Church, in Nantwich town centre, has taken on a new look.

   Work started before Christmas 2015 on a re-ordering of the "Cathedral of South Cheshire" - a task that has been completed.

   This included a new entrance at the west door of the church which included new inner glass doors and a new place to hang the spectacular Jubilee Curtain, which marks the 25th anniversary of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

   The impressive structure also includes unisex toilets - one for less able people - with the remaining areas being utilised for storage. 

   Other work included the removal of some of the pews to make more open spaces - including a place for a grand piano in the south aisle, for concerts, etc - a platform lift to replace the wheelchair lift, and stone ramps for wheelchairs,

replacing the wooden ones.

   Financial assistance was provided by Nantwich Town Council, Wren grants scheme, and Cheshire East Council

    I learned recently that the wooden ramps were installed by the BBC when the church was featured in a "Songs of Praise" broadcast in 1982, to enable the cameras to negotiate the steps between the north and south aisles and the side chapels during the recording.

   This picture shows members of St Mary's congregation hard at work on Saturday, April 16, cleaning up after the work was mainly finished.

   With the Jubilee Curtain re-hung, the pew kneelers back in place, and the dust covers protecting the pipe organ removed, the congregation set about restoring order and cleanliness.

   Seeing the west doors open, several members of the public took the opportunity of going inside the church to see the improvements.

   The top half of the glass doors (centre) is reflecting the east stained-glass window.  



Before the work began . . . the familiar view of the Jubilee curtain in place and the area cleared for the transformation



The structure taking shape in front of the west door.

   From the top, it consists of the board that will take the pelmet from the original position (see image above), two storage areas, an open space that will allow passers-by to see into the church when the west door is open - and people inside to see out, of course - and toilets on either side of the central gap.

  The Jubilee Curtain will hang on either side of glass doors, at the front of the structure.

  The inner glass doors will slide left and right to open, unlike the outer wooden door which will continue to open inwards.

  The open area which can just be seen above the central gap is where a large fan will create a warm air curtain. Think supermarkets and shops. 

  The structure is now being clad with oak-faced panelling. 



A side view of the structure, looking north, emphasises the lean of the sandstone pillar supporting the clerestory (row of windows) in the background.

   However, the pillar has been tested and found to be secure - and it's checked regularly for any movement!

   It is thought to have moved centuries ago with the added weight of the, then, new stonework and glass above it.

   Previously, the nave roof was a pitched one - as shown by marks on the wall at the eastern end of the nave. 




The completed oak panelling in place on March 19, prior to the addition of coats of oil. Take a good look now at this facade of the panelling as it will be covered by the Jubilee Curtain when it is re-hung.

   The centre apertures are for the glass panel (top) and the sliding inner glass doors.

   Just visible at the top of the structure are the cords which will open and close the Jubilee Curtain. (That is, not the piece of cable in the upper left of the aperture).



What's On - Churches


A feature of the church has been altered during the re-ordering.

   Ever since the visit by BBC Television for the "Songs of Praise" programme, an opening into the library has been covered by a false area of the sandstone wall (right).

  Television and theatre artistic people will recognise this as a "piece of scenery". It was a covering for an ugly vent in the wall which would have marred the television pictures. It stayed in place after the broadcast.

   This has now been replaced by a clear glass window (far right), seen reflecting a section of the clerestory on the opposite wall of the nave and part of a pillar.




The new grand piano in place ready for

the first lunchtime concert in May.



The new security door of the choir

vestry in the North Transept.  



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