St Peter's Church Re-Opening
It is now eight years since the disastrous fire that seriously damaged the Norman Church of St Peter’s in Ropley, and there were occasions when it looked like it might not be repairable and Ropley Parish would be left without a church.
Thanks to the dedication and effort of key members of the village community and to massive fund-raising efforts of the Parishioners approval was forthcoming to commence the rebuild, the question was, what to build and how to design it?
The Parochial Church Council started a tender process in order to appoint an architect to design the new church. Alexander Design were appointed in due course having had experience of projects that achieved a melding of the new with the old, with Reside Construction providing the considerable construction skills required. The need for a community venue was a major element of the brief and a kitchen and a smaller function room were also required. The bells would be restored and a new bell tower constructed.
The design of the new church included an overarching roof covering both of the surviving gable ends and a new, and very different, structure to the north of the main building which would house the kitchen an office and toilets. The barn-like effect of the roof referenced back to the early structure of the church. The function room was separated from the main church area by a glass wall maintaining the wide-open aspect of the interior. A complete wooden floor in the main area is complemented by stone flags in the entrance area.
In August this year the re-opening took place over the Bank Holiday weekend, with a grand opening on Friday 26th, an open day on Saturday 27th and the first service in the new building on Sunday 28th. On the Bank Holiday Monday, the 29th the church was open with refreshments for all. The first opportunity to view the new structure and its internal spaces met with much interest and praise from those who managed to attend the various events.
The Ropley History Network and Archive had a small stand at the open day on the Saturday, with a small display of historic photographs of the church. Many visitors came to exchange experiences and anecdotes of the church with those manning the stand.