Residents have a chance to own historic pews from Holy Trinity Church in Hurstpierpoint
Worshippers at Holy Trinity Church, Hurstpierpoint, can own a piece of architectural history following the building’s recent revamp.
Churchwardens George Baxter and Robert Price, along with the Rev Jane Willis, have been busy removing the church’s pews over the past two weeks.
Now they are offering them to the congregation, as well as community groups in the village.
“They’re original pews,” said George, who lives in Hurstpierpoint.
“They were installed at the time the church was built.”
Holy Trinity, a Grade II* listed building, dates from 1845 and was designed by Sir Charles Barry, who is best known for being the chief architect of the Houses of Parliament.
Now people can own his pews in exchange for a donation to the church’s refurbishment project.
The pews will need adapting, said George, but the church can work this out with the buyer.
“There’s been quite a lot of interest from the local community,” he added, saying that they have already given one to St Lawrence C Of E Primary School and offered them to pubs and the community centre.
Holy Trinity’s redesign will allow the church to be used for events like concerts, the Hurst Festival and conferences.
George said the team also plans to install a ‘state-of-the-art audio visual screen’ for a potential cinema.
“It’s got to be respectful to the building,” he said.
“But we want the building to be used by the local community and wider community so that everybody benefits from it, instead of it being just a church, which was quite restricted by the formality of the pews,” he added.
The team expects the new chairs to be delivered in early May, which can be arranged in any configuration.
Holy Trinity will reopen on Good Friday (April 2) and use temporary, socially distanced seating until the new chairs arrive.
“This opens up lots of possibilities and it’s essential,” said George.
“If we don’t do this the building is just going to go into decay because we, as a church community, can’t sustain it long-term,” he added.
George said there are ‘enormous costs’ involved in running a large church and that using it for community events will generate the funds needed to look after it.
George thanked Robert Price and the Rev Jane Willis as well as the Parochial Church Council for its support.
The Rev Jane Willis said: “Being trusted with a building like Holy Trinity is both the most enormous blessing and the most enormous responsibility.”
“To get to where we’ve got to this week has been a huge amount of work and consultation but it’s really exciting seeing it happen,” she said.
“It’s a place of worship but it’s also the most amazing gathering place in our village,” she added.
The outside of the church has also been repaired with steeplejacks making the stone spire safe again.
Click here to read about the Victorian Society’s efforts to keep the pews in the church.