Building Anew at St Mary with St Alban

Building Anew at St Mary with St Alban


I’m delighted to inform you that Richmond Council has now granted us planning permission for our Building Anew project.

We have been working hard behind the scenes on this project with an architect and expert consultants over the past four years. Our church has always been a wonderful place to connect with God, but it should also be a place to connect with one another in our community.

Building Anew is the project to equip our beautiful, historic church with much-needed facilities, designed to make it fit for purpose, today and into the future:

  • fit to offer a hospitable welcome to all who enter;
  • fit to be a sacred space that is accessible to all, regardless of disability or need;
  • fit to be a sustainable community resource where groups meet for fellowship;
  • fit to be the building we need to fulfil our vision to ‘grow faith and friendship for all’.

To achieve this well, we need the facilities to support good, lengthy connection time: a kitchenette to serve drinks from, a space to meet and chat and, not least, some toilets.

The scheme has been designed to preserve the significant historic features of our church, while adding a sympathetic, step-free extension on the north side of the church in place of the existing choir vestry. This extension contains:

  • a multi-purpose gathering/meeting space with an integrated kitchenette – the ‘Garden Room’ – with large glass windows, an integrated contemporary glass artwork and direct access to the churchyard on the south side;
  • a connection between the north aisle of the church and the Garden Room via a ‘pentice’, consisting of a glass-walled passageway and fully accessible toilets.

The scheme also includes re-ordering the northeast corner of the church to make more efficient use of the existing footprint, thereby minimising the size of the extension needed and the building costs.

Building Anew is about making our contribution to the 800-year history of our church which has been added to every century. Every generation has done their bit to ensure the building is fit for purpose for their own particular time. We feel strongly that our task is to build an extension that will enable the whole church (both the building and the people) to bring faith and friendship to all.

These plans are the culmination of a long process of discernment, research, planning and consultation. The scheme we have developed not only meets our needs but enhances our historic building and the way it relates to the beautiful churchyard around it. The positive feedback received during our consultation processes has been extremely welcome and encouraging, including from Historic England, the Diocese of London, The Teddington Society and our local community.

We are now excited to be beginning the next phase of the project, which will include preparing the detailed design and launching a fund-raising campaign, with the aim of beginning construction in 2024. I believe this development will be truly transformational, not just for our building and the facilities we can offer to our local community, but also for the way we connect with one another. Building Anew is about making the most of our lovely building and creating a new space where we can come together and build relationships.

Best wishes,
Caroline (Rev Caroline Halmshaw)

Overview of our Building Anew project

We are privileged to worship in an historic parish church set within a beautiful churchyard. Today, it is up to us to ensure that this wonderful oasis in the middle of a busy London suburb continues to flourish and provide for the spiritual and other needs of our community.

To achieve this we face a challenge! Our church has no toilets, kitchen facilities or flexible gathering/meeting space. This greatly curtails the use we can make of our beautiful building. Although we are lucky enough to have a Parish Hall with facilities, it lies across a busy main road with no safe crossing place, making it difficult to access for many, especially the young, the elderly and those with disabilities. We are seeking to remedy this by providing fully accessible toilets, a kitchenette and a meeting space adjoining the church, enabling us to extend our welcome to all.

After months of hard work by the project team and the governance group under the guidance of the PCC, we have designed a space to provide the facilities we need to make our church more welcoming and fit for purpose. We have considered a wide range of approaches, with expert input sought across all relevant areas, including the heritage of the building, engineering, accessibility, archaeology, the churchyard, environmental impact and future sustainability. The design seeks to preserve all the significant historic features of our church, maximise the use of the space available within the existing building and add a sympathetic extension providing toilets, kitchen facilities and a new multi-purpose space – the Garden Room.

The Garden Room Extension

The Garden Room will be on the north side of the church, replacing the current choir vestry which will be demolished. It will be accessed directly from a new doorway in the north wall of the church via a glass-walled passageway. The new doorway will be created by enlarging the window opening nearest the organ on the north wall, with the stained-glass window currently located there restored and repositioned to replace the clear glass central window.

The extension will have glass walls on the north and west sides opening up views onto our glorious churchyard. Two toilets – one accessible with baby-change facilities – will be located off the passageway. The west wall of the Garden Room will contain a kitchenette complete with sink, microwave and dishwasher. The Garden Room will be large enough to host coffee after services, Children’s Church and other church and community groups linked to the church during the week. The new extension will also free up availability in the Parish Hall for community use and commercial hire, bringing in much-needed additional revenue.

The Garden Room will benefit from direct access to the churchyard, with a south-facing door onto a Mary Garden, providing a welcoming entrance from the south and east sides of the church. A contemporary glass artwork will be commissioned to be integrated into the east wall of the Garden Room to echo the existing stained-glass windows in the church, adding ambience and bringing in further light. The whole extension is designed as an integrated space with the church, which will be step-free and accessible from both church and churchyard.

East elevation with proposed extension

Internal re-ordering of the church

To minimise the size of the extension and keep costs as low as possible, the proposed design includes a re-ordering of the rooms in the northeast of the church to make the most efficient use of its existing footprint.

Firstly, the significant amount of space in the current organ chamber will be liberated by replacing the pipe organ with a new state-of-the-art digital organ. Experts have confirmed that the current pipe organ is of no historical significance and not a high-quality instrument. Replacement of this with a new digital organ (with 20 drawstops) will improve the sound quality as well as free up the space currently occupied by the pipes and bellows.

This area will become the sacristy (used by the clergy before and after services), with a mezzanine floor inserted to accommodate storage above. It will be accessed by a new doorway and staircase from the current sacristy (the room to the left of the altar) which will become the new choir vestry. This room can also be used as a further meeting room when not required by the choir.


Permissions and Next Steps

Having been granted planning permission for this scheme by Richmond Council in December 2022, we are now excited to be beginning the next phase of the project. This will include preparing the detailed design, applying for a Faculty from the Diocese of London and launching a fund-raising campaign, with the aim of beginning construction in 2024.

If you would like to help with the fundraising campaign, we would be delighted to hear from you. Please contact us at:

We hope you agree that Building Anew represents an exciting opportunity to make our beautiful church fit for purpose today and able to flourish into the future.

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