We are seeking to conserve this ancient building and develop it for community and educational use in a number of phases. Waddesdon, like many Buckinghamshire villages, is experiencing rapid growth through new housing developments. We have embraced a vision of this building serving as a place of encounter for new and long-time residents, where all are welcome.
In 2012, the vision was developed drawing from St Michael’s location in an area of high quality milling wheat. The lectionary readings for a month were from St John’s Gospel on the Bread of Life. Outside the church were the fields of wheat, across the valley was the windmill at Quainton. And so, the vision of the Bread of Life bakery was formed to make the church building a hub of the village and also to provide educational facilities, in co-operation with a local farm and the windmill at Quainton, to celebrate the high quality milling wheat produced around Waddesdon and tell the story of bread production and the centrality of bread to the faith practiced in the church. This offering will be targeted at school groups as well as visitors and will include material to better relate the interesting heritage of the building, displaying as it does the development of the English medieval church.
As well as a bakery to serve the community and catering outlets nearby, the building will house a cafe as a meeting point for the community, providing room for buggies and wheelchairs, a meeting space welcoming choirs, orchestras, schools and other community organisations, and providing a fitting place for Sunday worship, whilst preserving and conserving its expansive and beautiful proportions.
A feasibility study was completed in 2015, funded by a grant from the Diocese of Oxford, into conserving the building, facilitating the vision and developing it to be more appropriate for church activities. This includes the provision of meeting rooms for creche and children’s work for our growing congregation (which will also be available for use by the community), as well as making the building more accessible and useable for a variety of community uses, 7 days a week. It will be a meeting place catering for young and old, such as Alzheimer’s coffee mornings, art classes for young people with special needs, lectures from the University of the Third Age, drop in coffee mornings for mums and babies as well as mother and toddler groups as there will be ample room for prams and buggies. A plan of the selected option from the feasibility study is included below.
However, to accomplish this a solid base is needed on which to install the future facilities and the building needs to be dry, safe and warm. The first stage of achieving this vision was completed in 2019 with the replacement of the external drains and the majority of the floor and the installation of a new heating system (refer to the previous section). The outcome is a flat, dry and warm floor on which flexible seating can be placed and moved to cater for and encourage more events in the building.
We are now planning for the next stage of the conservation and development of our building and delivering on the vision of the Bread of Life bakery.
The detailed PLAN for the future refurbishment of St. Michael and All Angels can be viewed here.