The historic, listed St Day Old Church is to be handed over to a new organisation dedicated to its future as a community resource
A 30-year journey by a local community group is about to reach a triumphant conclusion when the roofless Holy Trinity Old Church, St Day, is handed over by the Church of England to the St Day Old Church Community Interest Company (CIC).
The CIC plans to turn it into a community space for theatre, music, film, art, and all sorts of educational and social uses.
A big community celebration is being planned by the CIC to mark this historic occasion on Monday, April 30, at 2pm, at St Day Old Church. Children from St Day and Carharrack Community School, the folk band Handpicked, and the Day-Light Choir will all perform. The Archdeacon of Cornwall, the Venerable Bill Stuart-White, will formally hand over the building to the CIC, and everybody will then be invited to share in a cream tea at the church hall.
‘Like a toy fort’
Sir John Betjeman said it looked like an ecclesiastical toy fort. This extraordinary building, constructed in 1828, served as the parish church until structural problems forced its closure in 1956. It was abandoned, vandalised and neglected, under threat of collapse, and no one knew what to do with it, until in 1988 the St Day Old Church Appeal was launched with the intention of saving it for community use.
A programme of fundraising and stabilisation works was implemented and the building was open to the public for some 14 years before its long-term future became uncertain. Happily, this has now been resolved; persistence paid off, and St Day Old Church now has a promising future.
Pivotal role in the life of St Day
Archdeacon Bill said: “I am really very pleased that we can now hand this building over to the community who have wanted it for several years, and hope that it will play a pivotal role in the life of St Day.
“It has not been a straightforward journey, as there are always lots of complexities involved in arrangements like this, but thankfully with goodwill and a desire to see this happen on both sides we have got there.”
Adrian Browning, from the Church Commissioners, said: “Although a ruin, St Day Old Church is of interest because of its historic associations with the Cornish mining industry and we look forward to seeing the CIC’s plans come to fruition and the building once more becoming a focal point for the community.”
Chairperson of the St Day Old Church CIC, Bernadette Fallon, said: “We are delighted that now St Day Old Church will be acquired from the Church Commissioners and will become a facility which can benefit the whole community. We are particularly pleased that St Day and Carharrack Community School will be using the building for various activities.
“There is some work to do – nothing very major – before the church can be used and enjoyed by the public, and we are confident we can obtain the necessary grants to do the work. We will ensure that the building’s listed status will be protected and enhanced. The church will eventually have a covered performance area, and will be a stunning venue for all sorts of community events.
‘Hardly dared to dream’
“We are grateful to the diocese and the Church Commissioners for working with us to enable this project to be realised.
“When we started this project 30 years ago we hardly dared to dream that we would arrive at this day, but here we stand, on the threshold of a whole new and exciting future for St Day Old Church.
“We have had a great deal of support from the people of St Day over the years, and we’re going to need a lot more. There will be something for everyone to do to make the St Day Old Church project a great success in the future.
“When we’re up and running we hope to put on fantastic events which will attract people from all over the region, as well as visitors to Cornwall.”
Sheri Sturgess, who chairs the Church Uses Committee of the Diocese of Truro, said: “We have worked with the local group over many years, who have ensuredthat it is open to the public during the summer months when this has been possible, and it is only fitting that they should now be able to take control of the building and enable it to reach its full potential.”