Building Our Future

Welcome to the Building Our Future (BOF) ProjectBuilding Our Future Logo for web
at St. Mary’s Church, Bloxham


For over 1000 years, the parish church of Bloxham has adapted to the needs of the community that it serves. The BOF project is dedicated to enhancing our magnificent church with up to date facilities, to make it more welcoming and more practical for all - whilst maintaining the beauty of this historic building.

Please explore the contents and links below to find out more.



What is BOF?

Building Our Future (BOF) is a development project dedicated to bring much needed internal upgrades to St. Mary’s Church, Bloxham. The aim of BOF is to make our parish church more flexible for the congregation and more useable for the whole community.

These changes are needed to develop both worship and community engagement, to support the growth and sustainability of our parish church and enable the building to become a valuable physical resource for our growing, thriving, village community.

This is a significant, once in a generation, project. As such, we have established different sub-groups to focus on three key areas: Flexible Worship; Community Use and Heritage – supported by Fundraising and Communications.

Flexible Worship Group:   The Revd Dale Gingrich, Vicar

01295 720252   

office@bloxhambenefice.co.uk

Community Use Group:    Jon Carlton

07836 364420

jonmgcarlton@aol.com

Heritage Group:                  Ian Myson

07594 969381 

ian_myson@hotmail.com

Fundraising Group:             Sir Tony Baldry

sirtonybaldry@gmail.com

Communications Group:   Phoebe Hart

                                                bofcomms@gmail.com

 

What makes St. Mary’s so special?

St. Mary’s, Bloxham is no ordinary parish church.

St. Mary’s (also known as Our Lady of Bloxham) is one of only 300 parish churches in the Major Churches Network - recognised by the Church of England’s Church Buildings Council to have ‘exceptional significance’ and ‘make a considerable civic, cultural, and economic contribution to their community’.

Said to be ‘one of the finest 100 in the country’ by Simon Jenkins, it has the tallest spire in Oxfordshire; fascinating architectural features from 12th Century through to Morris & Co stained glass windows and a rood screen gifted by none other than Cardinal Wolsey.

Aside from its physical attributes, St. Mary’s has had a dedicated vicar since 1221 and played its part in various religious ups and downs in the past 1000 years, from rebellion to dissention! Today St. Mary’s has an active congregation of 100 and over 15 various groups reaching into, and serving, its community.

To find out more...

Why not delve into Stories from St. Mary’s, a fascinating series looking more closely at some of the Bloxham characters and stories connected to our parish church.

Read the full history and guide to St. Mary’s here.


 

How will BOF benefit the community?

Despite its position in the centre the village, St Mary’s is not as much at the heart of village life as it could be and is used for worship only two days each week. Its current ordering, lack of facilities and accessibility are serious constraints to wider community use.

Under normal circumstances, the Parish Rooms are in daily use but their size places a natural restriction on the number of people and the type of activities that can take place in them.

There is also an opportunity to help build and sustain community life in a growing and changing village. We must create connections with (and between) incoming residents - while continuing to meet the needs of older residents.

We recognise that we have a duty to conserve and enhance our exceptional, historic church building, and - to make it sustainable - acknowledge the need to generate income to support its running costs, which can be done, for example, by attracting fee paying events.

We believe that the church building can offer our community something that complements rather than competes with existing village facilities.

It is a given in all the thinking of the Community Use workstream that the primary purpose of St Mary’s is as a place of worship and private contemplation. This fact will be respected and provided for whatever other activities are accommodated.

 

What will it look like?

The proposals have been evolving through discussion with the Diocese, conservation bodies and users of the building. In summary, the scheme - which is subject to Diocesan approval at various stages - involves:

Phase 1

 

The priority for Phase 1 is to make St. Mary’s more practical for existing users and the wider community by undertaking essential repairs and upgrades to include:

           ·         A new heating system

           ·         Adding facilities such as toilets, a kitchen, storage and a choir vestry. Public notice of application to Oxford         Diocese regarding the kitchen and toilets be viewed here.

           ·         Upgrading the Audio Visual system, essential for delivering remote services

 

Phase 2

 

St. Mary’s is renowned as one of the ‘grandest churches in the country’. The focus for Phase 2 is to “shine a light” on the beauty within, by:

·         Fully restoring the disintegrating floor throughout as well as restoring key features of the Chancel such as the   Rood Screen

·         Making the seating more practical - retaining two thirds of the existing pews, making them shorter and movable,   and supplementing them with new chairs to deliver a maximum seating capacity of 700

·         Installing improved lighting throughout to present the building to best effect and to highlight the most notable   interior features

Phase 3

 

The final Phase will focus on making St. Mary’s more welcoming to all visitors by:

·         Extending the clergy vestry (adjacent to the chancel) to provide meeting and office space

·         Opening up the west door, making it useable as an additional entrance and more welcoming  by adding internal   glass doors and a lobby area within

·         Raising the bell ringing chamber as part of repurposing the tower area


 

What will it cost?

 

Project Element

Estimated Cost

Sub-totals

Phase 1

Heating

127

 

Facilities / Screen

278

 

Further audiovisual

44

 

Total Phase 1

 

449

Phase 2

Floor restoration

127

 

Seating / pews / furniture

139

 

Lighting / electrics

146

 

Total Phase 2

 

412

Phase 3

Clergy vestry extension

139

 

West Door

51

 

Raised ringing chamber

114

 

Total Phase 3

 

304

Total

 

1,165

 

 

How has Covid affected the project?

The pandemic has clearly created considerable uncertainty in many areas of life.  Uncertainty over fundraising has prompted the restructuring of the project into a number of sequential project elements as set out above in order to avoid the risk associated with an “all or nothing” approach to the project. We will progress through the project elements as far as funding availability will allow. In sequencing the project we have prioritised the elements that stand to deliver greater usability, particularly the new facilities.

We have taken additional professional fundraising advice in order to evaluate the particular impacts of the pandemic on e.g. grant-funding bodies. This advice has also led us to intensify our focus on the community use and heritage dimensions of the project, with the establishment of dedicated work groups involving a mix of church goers and non-church goers.

The overall impact of the pandemic on our planned timings has been to extend the project’s duration by some 12 months against original plans, though some activities have nevertheless been able to take place as originally intended (for example, much of the work in designing the new heating system). We have sought to use the lockdown for further planning, preparation and consultation. One of the encouraging aspects of the lockdown has been a strengthening of community spirit which we hope the BOF project is starting to tap into and further develop.

 

How can I find out more?

The BOF project team welcome discussion with all church users, villagers and the wider St. Mary’s community. We hope that you will find the answer to your queries in the Earlier Project Updates and FAQs below, but if not please do get in touch via bofcomms@gmail.com where you can also ask to join the mailing list and receive future updates directly.


Consultations

We are committed to holding Community Consultations every six months to update our community on the project and enable open and honest two-way discussion about any aspect of the project.

The next Community Consultations will be on:

Monday 24th May 6-7pm

Wednesday 26th May 6-7pm

 To sign up for a meeting and receive the Zoom link, please contact us via bofcomms@gmail.com.

 

How can I support BOF?

There are many ways that you can support the BOF project:

Follow St. Mary’s on Facebook: Simply search Facebook for ‘St. Mary’s Church, Bloxham’ and request to join the ‘Public Group’ to follow all the latest news.

Become a BOF Champion: Being a BOF Champion is really very little effort. You'll get an email update every quarter and an invite to any consultation meetings (currently via Zoom every 6 months). In return we just ask that you stay abreast of the project and act as our eyes, ears and a voice for the project in the village. Personal communications about projects like this are key to ensuring awareness, understanding and support. We want you to be able to talk confidently about the project when it arises - at the Coop queue, the school gate or over the garden fence!

Join one of the work streams: If you have a particular skill or interest that you think would support one of the work streams, please do get in touch with the work stream lead. All offers of help are very welcome!

Support our fundraising: From Autumn 2021 we will be launching a Community Fundraising drive to secure the final element of the funding for Phase 1. Please look out for news nearer the time and think about ways you, your family and friends could help raise money for St. Mary’s.

 

What are people saying?

We have received many lovely Letters of Support for BOF from the congregation, village and wider community. Here are just a few extracts:

 

“Our spectacular church is in need of updating and going forward would be the most amazing provision for our growing village... I can imagine that with the right enhancements and facilities so many communities, organisations and charities could raise their profiles and funds in this venue. I can picture all of the people that could be helped and the positive ripples of this travelling far and wide!”

 

“The church, as you know, stands at the centre of Bloxham village, in a prime location to be a community hub. Unfortunately, due to the current inflexibility of the interior layout and the lack of on-site facilities, the mission of St. Mary’s as a hub is hindered... We have been heartened by the outward focus of St. Mary’s Building Our Future initiative to enhance and improve the mission of the church. We wholeheartedly support these plans and look forward to many more years of visiting, using and worshipping within St. Mary’s Bloxham.”

 

“This project is simply the most exciting and important project to be undertaken in Bloxham in my lifetime... The population of Bloxham has doubled in 30 years and the opportunity of creating a centre where nearly 25% of the entire village are able to meet is so important... During 2020 we have come to realise how important community is to us all and the plans for St. Mary’s will help us strengthen this further.”