Unveiled:Ambitious plans for rebuilding of arson hit church

AMBITIOUS plans to re-build a Fenland church destroyed by arsonists just five months ago have been unveiled by church leaders.

St Mary’s Church, Westry, near March will no longer be simply a small parish church but offer “enhanced facilities for flexible worship” and become a centre for young people, conferences, retreats and other community uses.

The vision of what St Mary’s might become has been outlined in documents submitted to Fenland District Council to secure consent for the re-building work to begin.

“Our objectives are to restore the beautiful Victorian architecture whilst effecting improvements which will enhance our worship and fellow,” says church leaders. “It will enable the building to be used more extensively by community groups.”

Although the parish only has 77 people on the electoral roll, the church has a weekly congregation of up to 50 but with extensive housie building in the future, St Mary’s is expecting to have a greater significance.

One idea being considered is for the church to stay open throughout the day “as a place of peace and tranquillity. “We also wish to explore use of the church, along side the hall, for conferences and retreats.”

The overall size of the building will not change, however, because of the number of graves and burials areas for cremated remains which are next to the church walls.

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Extra facilities include a servery, toilet and an enclosed area for meetings, cr�che, and children’s activities.

Funding for the re building is coming mainly through the �1.8 million insurance cover but an appeal fund will focus on providing the extra facilities. So far �25,000 has been raised.

“The tremendous response from the community since the building was destroyed, through messages of sympathy and fund raising events, is indicative of the regard and affection in which the church and its people are held,” adds the report.

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