St. Matthew’s Community Room and Kitchen, Chapel Allerton
St.Matthew’s Church was built between 1897 and 1900 to the design of G. F Bodley and is Listed Grade II*.
St.Matthew’s ‘Building for the Future’ project began nearly twenty years ago with the aim of providing better facilities for worship and for the community. Phase 1 involved the Reordering of the Worship Space in front of the imposing Chancel screen and organ loft; which unfortunately restricted the view through to the Chancel and the High Altar at the East End. Phase 1, which was completed in 2004, consisted of the creation of a Nave Sanctuary complete with new oak Nave Altar, lecterns and choir stalls. The new dais also incorporates a ramp to provide wheelchair access to the Chancel, Vestries and the Lady Chapel.
Phase 2 which was completed earlier this year addresses the community aspect of the Vision and aims to widen the use of the building throughout the week and make it available for serving the community. In recent years a community cafe had been set up at the west end and the Church hosted night shelters, but with inadequate facilities centred on a table in the north west corner and no running water plus the need to heat the whole church building for any event or meeting no matter how small.
These new activities were well supported and it became clear from consultations within the wider community and present user groups in the adjoining Church Hall that the Church needed a fully serviced and comfortable self-contained Community Room and full kitchen facilities in its own right to harness the potential for wider use by the community.
Phase 2 involved relocating the historic font to its rightful place adjacent to the South Door and thus releasing the cluttered west end for development of a Community Room and Kitchen to serve small gatherings and/or larger events in the main body of the Church. The new structure is oak framed between masonry end walls containing doors with exposed stone hood mouldings to match the originals in the Church. The Community Room has its own underfloor heating served from an air source heat pump. The oak panelled cabinets which originally held the old large bore heating pipes & radiators have been re-purposed and converted to cupboards and a new matching tall storage cupboard introduced across the unused west door. The arched stone moulding over these doors is reflected in the glazed vault over the centre of the room. This vault allows natural light into the room as well as a view out of the west window. When the Room is used for the Children’s Creche during Sunday Worship the large glazed screens with bifold doors enable the parents and children to visually connect with the service. They also enable the space be opened up to the Worship Space for large concerts, Worship, etc. The kitchen and servery are closed by oak sliding/folding shutter doors when not in use.
As the Church had very few funds in reserve the project had to be largely funded by generous grants, numerous local fund raising and loans. A process which took over two years to reach its target.
St Matthew’s mission statement is that ‘We aspire to be an open and growing Christian community serving our diverse neighbourhood’. The new facilities enables St.Matthew’s to work together with other local churches, the adjoining School – and we welcome representatives from the churches and from CAYP and InterAct Partnership – and to build friendship with other faith communities.
This ‘Community Room’ is a tangible sign that we want to increasingly work together for the benefit of the whole community with all local organisations and groups. These include St Matthew’s School – Chapel Allerton Arts Festival, Chapel Allerton Youth Project, Leeds Citizens and others.
The Community Café is now fully Dementia friendly.