What's going on at Detling Church?

It’s a question I have been asked a few times over the last month or so as a number of eagle-eyed residents have spotted the builder’s vans parked outside St Martin of Tours and the church has been closed for services and regular events.

So, in response to the question – here’s a brief update:

For many years the PCC has been considering a way to make the church building better suited for current day worship and accommodate other uses.  One of the constraints was the lack of space at the front of the church, the east end, within the chancel - the area where the choir would traditionally sit, and the sanctuary- where the altar is situated.

Working with the church architect and the Canterbury Diocesan Advisory Committee a plan was prepared and approved for the removal of choir pews and the vicars stall, repositioning of the pulpit and levelling of the floor to create a single level area within the chancel and the sanctuary.  These works were approved granted through the Faculty process, the Church of England’s own planning system.

After tendering of the works H Goodsell (builder) from Maidstone was appointed and has been undertaking the works.  Completion is scheduled for 9th August.

The new space will allow the vicar and others more space to lead services, accommodate wedding parties and permit undertakers to turn coffins with far greater ease.  It will also allow the altar to be moved to suit different services and the choir to sit comfortably as a single group.

In addition to worship uses, the new open space can be used for a variety of non-worship uses, such as concerts, plays and performances, coffee mornings, lunches and supper nights to support and help keep open the doors of St Martin of Tours – watch out for news of these events in due course.

St Martin of Tours will look quite different as a result of these works and I am sure it will take a while for us to adjust, hopefully the benefits will be forthcoming and our ancient church in Detling will enter a new chapter in its long history. 

Whilst the works have been undertaken the regular worshipping congregation has been meeting at our new sister church, St Marys, Thurnham, in the newly formed Parish of Detling with Thurnham.  It’s been a good way to get to know Thurnham and I encourage you to visit St Marys if you have the chance to do so, it’s a very attractive church and has some very interesting features, including a treasure chest opened by a secret button!   As for the organ at Thurnham – I am very pleased to be returning to Detling! 

St Martin of Tours is set to open on Sunday 11th August for the service at 10:30am – a Songs of Praise is planned with a selection of good well known hymns – I hope you can come along for a good sing, see the result of the works and stay for coffee and a chat.

Tim Cathcart

Organist & PCC Member