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Modern vision for medieval church


A medieval rural church is looking to again become the hub of village life with plans that include installing a cash machine for residents.

As well as an ATM in the wall of All Saints’ Church, Beckingham, which is listed for protection, there are plans for an internet café and the use of solar panels for heating.

The aim is to safeguard the future of the church, which closed in the early 1990s, after repairs became too costly, and only re-opened fully at Christmas 2006.

Churchwarden Mrs Gill Green (54) of Hillside, Beckingham, said the church was the hub of the village many centuries ago with people meeting to do everything there.

She said their vision showed All Saints’ was changing with the times.

“It shows the church is evolving to meet the demands of a new millennium and it is still a place of worship. It is very exciting,” Mrs Green said.

“We do not lack imagination we just lack money.”

At one point during the closure, services were held at Mrs Green’s home for about four years.

It is hoped such times will not be repeated as members plan for the future, with backing from English Heritage, which recently awarded the church £143,000 for ongoing repairs.

This comprises £16,000 towards determining the work needed to the south aisle roof, stonework and some of the windows.

Another £127,000 will be for carrying out work, which will include releading and checking roof timbers over the south aisle.

The Priest-in-charge at Beckingham, the Rev Alan Megahey, said this grant got them to the point where they could start talking about future plans.

The latest work should be completed by summer next year.

Dr Megahey said the improvements were taking a long time but they just needed to have patience.

The work follows previous repairs to other parts of the roof.

The church first received £61,000 from English Heritage with the condition that members raise at least £15,000, which they did thanks to an overnight candlelit vigil in the church in 2003.

This was one of the rare times the church was used during the closure.

The money paid for repairs to the tiled chancel roof.

Another £149,000 from English Heritage in 2005 paid for roof repairs above the nave roof and above the north aisle.

Other future work includes providing an open space in the church for events such as exhibitions and concerts.

It is also hoped to provide a kitchen and toilets under the tower, and to repair the clock and repaint the chancel.

Dr Megahey said they hoped a company would sponsor the solar heating system. The panels would be on an area not seen from the ground.

He said they were also hoping for a bank to sponsor the cash machine.

A spokesman for the Lincoln Diocese said if the plans were approved Beckingham would become the first church in the diocese to have an ATM.

The Archdeacon of Lincoln, the Venerable Arthur Hawes, backs the idea, saying it would help to serve the community.

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