The VISION (key content)

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The Future of
St Mary’s Church,

THE VISION – key sections

September 2016

Totnes with Bridgetown Parochial Church Council.  Registered Charity Number 1128123


The Totnes with Bridgetown PCC’s vision for St Mary’s Church in Totnes is to provide an inspiring, fully useable and fit-for-purpose place for worship, music, performing arts and art displays to serve the community of Totnes, its surrounding district and visiting tourists.

The aim is to enable the church to be a living, vibrant place, that meets the needs of all comers, serving visitors and community alike, in providing a place for prayer, but also welcoming a wide variety of community events and activities with special emphasis on musical events, performing arts and art displays.

The PCC seeks to achieve its vision by embarking on a project that provides for the restoration, refurbishment and reordering of the church. The project will:

  • improve the environment, making the building a light, warm, welcoming place that is accessible to all those attending the church for services as well as community and visitor events
  • make the upkeep of the church building more sustainable by broadening its use and community engagement by accommodating, inter alia, musical events, performing arts and art displays

General Information

Church activities and events which seek to reach out to the local community and visitors to the Totnes include:

  • Regular pattern of concerts as a popular concert venue (summer months only)
  • Charity events, both musical and social
  • Music workshops (RSCM)
  • Organist association gatherings encouraged by the fine Willis organ
  • Organ recitals
  • Children’s orchestra and music events
  • Popular music events to promote young bands
  • ‘Show of Hands’ Concert
  • The Sea Change Festival

The church is inhibited in its opportunities to expand and broaden its depth of worship and community activities by the rigidity and limitations of the furnishings and the lack of facilities that match up to modern day standards and expectations.

Due to the inadequate and sometimes faulty heating system the church is often too cold in the winter months to comfortably accommodate events and choir practice. It also lacks any washroom or toilet facilities. The nearest is a parish room approximately 100 metres away from the church, with outside male and female WCs.

The church has very limited facilities to enable an effective and modern catering service to be provided in support of many of the community events mentioned above.

 The Need

There is a need to reorder and / or modify the internal layout of the church. It currently lacks fundamental comforts and inspiration that hampers its presence as a witness of Christian faith and as a community social, arts and cultural centre.

The building, in its current state, is not particularly inviting to the wider community of Totnes and its surrounds. This is especially so during the winter months. The church copes as best as we can with the current configuration consisting of fixed pews, but are restricted in the scope of what we might creatively do to attract a greater audience, meet modern day demands and create a community centre that is both welcoming and comfortable.

St Mary’s needs the following as part of its proposed reordering scheme:

  • Improved and flexible seating to accommodate a greater range of functions and events but still in keeping with the building
  • Improved and more adequate lighting, electrical installation and heating
  • Facilities for catering for large numbers at major events
  • Accessible lavatories within the building
  • Vestry / changing facilities for clergy, choir and visiting performers

The Proposal

To make the building structurally sound and improve the comfort and communal use of the church building to its maximum potential, the PCC proposes the following:

  • To provide improved and flexible seating and other furnishing (storage) that complement the fabric of the church and that will mark an important development in the design and visual impact within the Church
  • To provide an efficient and economical form of appropriate heating
  • To provide accessible lavatories including disabled facilities
  • To provide catering facilities sufficient to service major events
  • To provide appropriate vestry provision for clergy and choir vesting together changing facilities for concert and performing arts performers
  • To provide adequate facilities for art displays


St Mary’s Church is at the heart of the community of Totnes and its surrounds as well as being a major tourist attraction within the town. Unfortunately its very existence is threatened by its condition (rated Poor Condition in Heritage at Risk 2015) and its current inability to provide a full and comprehensive community facility.

The church’s vision is to reverse the building’s physical deterioration and to have it removed from the Heritage at Risk register as well as expand its usage by creating a welcoming and thriving community facility that provides an inspiring, fully useable and fit-for-purpose place for worship, music, performing arts and arts display serving the community of Totnes, its surrounding district and visiting tourists.