Letter from the Amesbury Parochial Church Council regarding Wyndham Hall - June 2021
Recently, we as your PCC have come to the difficult decision of selling the Wyndham Hall. This decision was reached after a great deal of in-depth discussion over the last few months, as well as considering all options for it to remain open until it is sold. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the PCC, as elected by those on the Electoral Roll, and by the wider community in respect of the Church Wardens, to make that decision as Trustees of the Hall.
We are sorry that our efforts to communicate with church members and the community may not have been very good, but this was primarily due to Government COVID restrictions and a shortage of PCC members. However, we trust this letter will explain the reasons for coming to the decision that we made.
As you are aware, the church was closed during the repair of the roof and it was the PCC’s intention to conduct services in the Hall during this period. However, the beginning of COVID restrictions initially saw the Hall closed. When we were allowed to resume ‘socially distanced, limited services’ a risk assessment was drawn up and the 10am Parish Eucharist was able to take place in the Hall (subject to stringent pre and post service cleaning being carried out). It was at this time that the PCC decided to keep the Hall closed to user groups for safety reasons and only open it for the 10 am Sunday service. The Hall’s user groups were informed as soon as possible and we believe they all found alternative venues. Our intention was never to keep the Hall closed post COVID restrictions - although a misunderstanding at the time led to a belief that we had closed it permanently!
For many years the Hall has been run by a mixture of paid and voluntary staff. But unfortunately, we are now in the situation where the number of volunteers is at such a low level, and have very little time or energy to commit themselves fully. So it has become impossible to continue to run the Hall in an efficient manner and accept (and manage) bookings. Without bookings there is not the income for the Hall’s maintenance and ongoing running costs. The Wyndham Hall, at its most efficient hiring period, has only raised enough income to maintain itself but not effectively for the larger issues, including recurring repairs to the flat roof.
Therefore, and unfortunately, we can no longer afford to run both the Wyndham Hall and the Parish Church as viable organisations so therefore the decision has had to be made to prioritize the church building.
Proceeds from the sale of the Hall can only be used for capital projects, not church funds. It is our vision that the proceeds from the sale will help fund the installation of toilets, a kitchenette (in or attached to the church), better heating, better lighting, a better sound system and the sympathetic reorganisation of the interior of the church building, to support multi-purpose use. This should result in it becoming a friendly space, not only for regular church services, weddings, baptisms and funerals, but also a wider range of uses, including community projects and groups’ use. Many other churches now operate in this way and this will help to preserve our wonderful Grade I listed building for future generations. More details of our plans for the church building, including consultation with community stakeholders, will be made available in the near future.
Though we are seeking an alternative owner for Wyndham Hall, this does not dictate the future use for the Hall which could still be used for other community activities under different ownership.
Our vision is to bring the Parish Church of St Mary and St Melor back into the heart of our community to be valued and used by far more people than for Church events alone.