Parishioners at Linch celebrate opening of church extension

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Parishioners of St Luke’s Church at Linch have celebrated the opening of their new extension with a series of special events.

The Bettesworth Room, named after Peter Bettesworth who was churchwarden in 1700 and led the rebuilding work of the current church, has provided parishioners with a new meeting room, a tea point and disabled toilet facilities.

The celebrations were the culmination of five years of dedicated fund raising by members of the congregation and the local area.

“We’ve had quiz evenings, auctions, race nights, sing-along-films and many generous donations, and the hard work has paid off to provide a fantastic new addition to the church,” said chuchwarden Lea Grocott.

The church extension was designed by critically-acclaimed architect Ptolemy Dean well known as historic buildings advisor on the BBC2 Restoration series, who set out to create ‘something beautiful but subservient to the existing church and having detailed features relating to modern times’.

His finished design features a large arched window replicating the shape of the chancel arch in the Church of the Good Shepherd at Iping Marsh which was demolished in the mid 1970’s.

Another link to the Iping Marsh church is the inclusion in an internal wall of four stones taken from the graveyard there.

Richardsons of Nyewood were the main contractor and all the wooden doors, door frames and window frames were made and supplied by Milland Joinery.

On Thursday a service of dedication led by The Bishop of Horsham, the Rt Rev Mark Sowerby and attended by more than 100 people, was held in the evening during which the bishop unveiled a plaque commemorating the event and blessed the four Church of the Good Shepherd stones.

He praised those who had the vision and drive to bring the project to completion and acknowledged the leadership of the rectors, two of whom were present, The Rev Anthony Hulbert – the immediate past rector and the current incumbent, the Rev David Renshaw.

The influence of the Rev Michael Smith, in post when the project was started, was also recognised.

On Saturday, a children’s tea party was organised by Catherine and Neil Chrismas and attended by more than 25 children with their parents. A special cake featured a model in icing of the church and its new room.

And on Sunday, the new Bettesworth Room was open for anyone to come and view.

“There was a steady flow of visitors all through the afternoon,” said Mr Grocott, “and many wonderful comments about the new facilities.”

A ‘Songs of Praise Service’ led by the archdeacon of Horsham, The Venerable Roger Combes followed in the evening.

“All in all,” said Mr Grocott, “it was a lovely upbeat weekend. It all went incredibly well and people had lovely things to say about the extension.”