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Why we object to proposed reordering of listed Longthorpe church

The Victorian Society are objecting to the proposals put forward by the Church of St Botolph in Longthorpe, Peterborough, for an extensive reordering. Find out what they propose and why we stand by our objections.

St Botolph's Church, Longthorpe

St Botolph’s Church in Longthorpe is a Grade I-listed building built in the 13th century and restored in the 19th. It is one of the oldest buildings in Peterborough and is listed as Grade I in accordance with its high historic and architectural interest. The interiors (and roof) are largely Victorian, including the tiled chancel flooring and the majority of the nave and chancel fixtures.

The proposals

Proposals currently approved by the Chancellor involve the extensive reordering of the whole church interiors. The vast majority of the nave and chancel fixtures would be removed (including the nave pews and all but two of the chancel pews, as well as the altar) and the Victorian tiled chancel flooring would be removed. The reasoning behind this extensive reordering is to facilitate more flexible usage, both for the regular worshipping congregation and for wider community events.

Our position

The Victorian Society opposes the proposals as they currently stand and we have submitted an appeal against the Chancellor’s judgement.

The focus of our objection, and therefore of the appeal also, is the removal of the large majority of the chancel furnishings, including the choir stalls, readers’ chairs and desks, communion rails, sanctuary flooring and reredos and the eagle lectern. We have consistently argued that the chancel furnishings should be retained as an ensemble both because of their historic and architectural significance.

The Victorian Society supports many church reorderings, however this extensive reordering goes far beyond what we believe to be necessary to achieve the goals planned by the church, causing substantial harm to both the architectural and historic significance of the building. Our views are shared by both Historic England (who reiterated their strong objections in 2015) and the 20th Century Society, who both feel the extent of the proposed reordering to be unjustifiable.

Our full objection letter from May 2014 can be viewed through the link above. This is the most thorough of all our objection letters to this scheme over the years, and our main objections have remained largely unchanged as the proposals have undergone superficial changes. 

Tuesday 4 April, 2017

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