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Community Raises Funds for Major Bayford Chapel Renovation

Thursday 14 July 2016, 17:24
By John Smith

Bayford Chapel

Bayford Chapel was recently purchased by village residents to ensure that it continues to be an important focal point in the village. The project was born at a public meeting in March 2015, when the Parochial Church Council (PCC) explained that a survey of the Chapel indicated the need for major repairs to the roof, and other areas costing around £56,000

The PCC could ill afford such costs, so they sought the community’s views about the future of this building.

A group of residents decided to meet and discuss the future viability of the building for the community, if indeed it had a future. A survey was conducted in which 79% of an estimated 120 households were asked about the Chapel’s future. Of those questioned, over 89% considered the building to be either important, or very important to the community. Of the replies, 82% were in favour of purchasing the building and converting it to a community facility.

The group decided to take the next step, and with the overwhelming support of the Parish Council The Bayford Mission Hall Society was formed as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). Taking the needs of the community into account , the Bath and Wells Diocesan Board of Finance agreed to sell the Bayford Chapel to the Society.

Bayford Chapel interior mid-renovation

Also known as the Mission Hall it was built in 1881 as part of the Wells Diocese. The diocese is made up of local Benefices, with Bayford Chapel being part of the Benefice that also includes St. Lawrence Church Cucklington, St. Andrews Church Stoke Trister, St. Stephens, and St. Johns Church Charlton Musgrove. The hall is small, being only 12 by 5 metres, but it has been a focal point in the village ever since.

Over many years, lack of necessary regular maintenance has left the building in a poor state of repair. The Society’s vision is to complete the repairs and convert the Chapel into a friendly, safe and accessible community facility with the benefit of toilets and a refreshment area. They have estimated the following costs to complete the project.

Charity set-up and acquisition of hall £25,000
Repairs and renovation £23,000
Conversion from chapel to community facility £28,000
Fitting out the hall £20,000

Adequate funding is vital for the success of the project, and after researching similar projects it was agreed to adopt the following funding model: one third from local donations, one third external benefactors, and one third from grant funding.

With an approximate local population of only 320 residents, raising one third locally was probably over-optimistic. That said, the group still hopes that £8,000 can be raised from donations generated via events such as jumble sales, talks, valuations, Christmas card sales etc.

Grant funding applications have been successful with generous support from Viridor Credits, especially for the hall acquisition from the Diocese. Viridor has also agreed to assist with the conversion of the Chapel to a community facility. Grant funding has also been promised by the Parish Council, South Somerset District Council, and Somerset County Council.

Bayford Chapel interior mid-renovation

As to the future use of the Chapel, it’s hoped that it will be self-funding, with estimated running costs of about £1,000 annually, and that the hall would be used for a wide range of social events, and classes. It may even host the Parish Council meetings and be used as the village Polling Station at elections.

The goal is to have all the work completed and the hall open for use by Christmas 2016. The timetable below shows what has been achieved to date and what has still to be completed.

 April 15th  Community survey; backed by Parish Council - Completed
 July 15th  Established Bayford Mission Hall Society CIO - Completed
 November 15th  Diocese accept purchase offer; start fundraising - Completed
 April 16th  Completion of Hall purchase - Completed
 May/June 16th  Repair of roof - In Progress
 July – Aug 16th  Conversion to community facility
 December 16th  Open Bayford Hall ready for Christmas

With the roofing repairs now nearing completion the planned works are still on schedule, but there is still a need to raise further finance to complete the project. If you would like to donate to help complete this important project cheques will be gratefully received. Make your cheque payable to BMHS and send to:

The Treasurer, BMHS, Newell House, Bayford, Wincanton, BA9 9NL


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