Corpus Christi, Boscombe, Bournemouth

 

In December 2014, the National Churches Trust awarded a £10,000 Community Grant to Corpus Christi, Boscombe, Bournemouth to provide accessible toilets and a meeting room in an extension to the vestry.

Corpus Christi is a brick, Victorian gothic church, built in 1896, replacing an earlier iron chapel. Originally seating 400, the church was enlarged to accommodate 800 in the 1930's and its matching tower added. The tower, at over 100 feet high, has two large windows each 48 feet tall and filled with old Norman glass of rich tints. It is listed Grade II.

The Roman Catholic church is open Monday to Friday and serves a widespread catchment area containing substantial areas of social deprivation as well as a few of moderate affluence. The adjacent Parish Centre is home to local activities and groups, including Alcoholics Anonymous, Brownies, Rainbows, Mothers and Toddlers Group and a pre-school Nursery.

Brief project description: Prior to the project the church had a single toilet, only accessible via the sacristy, which often led to embarrassment for church users. With increasing numbers of groups using the building, there was also a need to reconfigure the small, cramped sacristy and vestry areas and to introduce a meeting room as a facility for all ages. Plans were drawn up for an extension to the sacristy/vestry to provide separately-accessed, and accessible, toilets and a meeting room at a cost in the region of £130,000. The separate corridor allows locals and visitors to use the facilities without embarrassment, or disruption.

The initial spur for the project came from the death of a parishioner who donated £5,000 towards new facilities. Much of the remaining funds came from parishioners who wished the names of their departed loved ones to be inscribed on a memorial brass plaque. Some £67,000 was raised as a result of direct appeals in church and fundraising events.

"We were greatly helped by the generous grant of £10,000 from the National Churches Trust, which enabled us to reach the £100,000 target for the new build."

Project Challenges: The build went well and the Parish Property Manager and a member of the finance committee were available when required to oversee the build and to discuss any issues.The work was completed in Spring 2015.

Impact:

  • Improved and easily accessible toilets – essential for the number of users.
  • A small ‘Memorial Meeting Room’ for church groups, Liturgy of the Word for Children and other meetings and events. Prior to the project, the children's liturgy group had to meet in two small rooms which meant numbers were restricted. With the new meeting room, up to 40 children can be accommodated every Sunday.
  • The new structure is sympathetic to the 115-year-old listed building and has been well-received by the congregation and other users. The new room also complements the parish centre which stands adjacent to the church and is used for other community activities.
  • The room is available to use free of charge.

New uses and users:

  • Regular activities in the new Memorial Room include: Children’s Liturgy on Sundays, class religious meetings for local schools, Sacramental Programmes (i.e. preparation and instruction for First Holy Communion, Confirmation, Baptism, RCIA), marriage preparation meetings, meetings of the SVP (parishioners meet to discuss how they can help and support the poor and needy through visits, food banks etc.), meetings for Churches Together in Boscombe and ecumenical prayer meetings.
  • Since the official opening, the room has been used with great regularity both for worship and meetings, by all ages from children to the elderly.