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St. Peter's Church and Redundancy

The Vicarage,
Barton on Humber,

22nd December, 1971
Dear Friends,
It's now a year since the Church Council made its decision to ask for St. Peter's Church to be declared redundant under the Pastoral Measure, so it is perhaps appropriate for me to review the present situation about St. Peter's. I must make it clear that what I write now is very provisional: it is a review of the way things seem to be moving, rather than hard facts.
First, Let me make it ciear that a declaration of redundancy only refers to the pastoral need for a building for the immediate future. It says nothing about the architectural or historic value of St. Peter's.
The present situation is that the Council for the Care of Churches have prepared their report for the Church Commissioners. In it they are quite adamant that the whole of St. Peter's, Old and Great, should be preserved. There seems to be no question whatever of any part of St. Peter's being demolished. The only possible exception to this might be the North Porch which is very severely decayed. It needs completely rebuilding.
Can any alternative use be found for St. Peter's? The idea of a concert hall, museum or art gallery has been put forward, but even a combination of all these things would seem to be impossible. We just do not have the population to support such a project, even when the bridge makes us the 'aorta' of Hurnberside'.
Mr. Hugh Varah has made the very welcome suggestion that Old St. Peter's should have a Company of Guardians who would continue Old St. Peter's in living use as the shrine of the foundation of Anglo-Saxon Christianity in North Lindsey. This seems to be well within the terms of the Pastoral Measure, for it is only necessary for part of a Church to be declared redundant. Old St. Peter's is in a fine state of repair and should require no major work for many years.
If we assume that no alternative use can be found for Great St. Peter's - what then? The building then becomes the responsibility of the Redundant Churches Fund, which is a body specially established for the maintenance of buildings which are pastorally redundant but must be preserved for architectural and historical reasons. The funds income comes equally from the church and the state. This fund would then put Great St. Peter's in good

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order and repair. When this was done, the building would then be open to the public.
When this has happened, can we use St. Peter's as a Church, and if the need arose, could it become the Parish Church again? The answer to both these questions is Yes. There are restrictions on this though. The Pastoral Measure lays it down that a Church in the care of the Redundant Churches Fund can be used for occasional services with the Bishop's permission. If it could be shown that St. Peter's was no longer pastorally redundant, perhaps through a very large rise in population or through some disaster effecting St. Mary's either permanently or temporarily, then St. Peter' s would be vested in the Church again with no difficulty.
In the last few weeks I have heard several people say 'Wouldn't it have been better to have kept St. Peter's and lost St. Mary's?' Naturally enough, most of these views have come from those who have a deep attachment to St. Peter's, perhaps because they were baptised or married there, or simply because they prefer it as a Church. I am sure that just as many people would feel the same way about any idea of closing St. Mary's. Though I was not present at the time, I am sure that the Church Council was right in deciding to choose St. Mary's as the Parish Church. The reasons for this choice as I see them are that St. Mary's, magnificent building that it is, does not have the uniqueness of St. Peter's, so we should not have anything like such a strong case for the fabric being maintained by the Redundant Churches Fund. This might mean that by keeping St. Peter's as the Parish Church we should find St. Mary's demolished. That would be a great disaster. Though this is a personal opinion, St. Mary's is a better Church in which to worship: it is much more open and light, especially in the Chancel. The third factor is expense. St. Mary's is likely to cost between 6,000 and 7,000 to put in good order during the next five years. St. Peter's, Great St. Peter's that is, is in a very much worse state of repair. The timber of the roof is severely damaged by dry rot, the lead covering is beyond repair, there is no heating system whatever in the building, the organ is unplayable. Even though the Chancel is the responsibility of the Lay-rectors, St. Peter's would cost the Church the best part of 20,000 to put into good and usable order.
Of course, this leaves many problems which seem to defeat an answer at the moment. What about St. Peter's organ? The bells and the clock? Despite this list of unsolved problems, the Church Council was surely right.
My family and I would like to thank the very many people in Barton who sent us Christmas cards and to wish you all a very Happy New Year.
Yours sincerely,

Darrel Speedy


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