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Crawley church revamp wins community award

By This is Sussex  |  Posted: September 28, 2009

Architect Deirdre Waddington and Father Chris Bergin celebrate an award for building work at The Friary Church of St. Francis and St. Anthony

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A MAJOR refurbishment project at a town centre church has won a community building award.

Poor disabled access, an inadequate children's mass room and peeling paintwork led to the £750,000 refurbishment of The Friary Church of St Francis and St Anthony, in Haslett Avenue.

Architect Deirdre Waddington was brought in to address the issues and her work won the Royal Institute of British Architects Downland Prize for community scheme in south and south east England with a budget of less than £1million.

The church, rebuilt in 1959, was listed to protect features of the work by architect Harry Stuart Goodhart-Rendel.

The refurbishment process began about five years ago when architects were invited to give their thoughts on potential work.

Father Chris Bergin told the News: "We wanted to make the church a more welcoming place for prayer.

"Deirdre was the only one who asked if she could come to mass before doing so."

Work began in October last year and was completed by Easter.

Miss Waddington said: "We closed the church down for that period. We had a lot of work to do particularly on the ceiling."

The painted ceiling was in a poor state and in need of cleaning.

The mural was continued throughout the church with the coat of arms of Pope Benedict XVI and the Bishop of Horsham Rev Mark Sowerby being added.

Access to the church has been altered with a ramp providing easy access to disabled members of the congregation and those with young children.

A new altar has been added, saved from a church in Woking, Surrey, which was undergoing refurbishment work itself.

Heat and lighting has been updated to make the church more comfortable to the 1,500 visitors to the church a week.

Father Chris said the heating and lighting makes the church more comfortable place to pray.

He added: "It is all about the community, about the people that come through those doors whether regulars or visitors. It is about their needs."

The Friary shared its first place in the community section of the Downland Prize with St Margaret's Church, in Angmering.

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