A new kitchenette and toilet are transforming the hospitality opportunities at St Mary’s, Ashbury. 

For years congregation members have been reliant on thermos flasks for tea and coffee after services. And, if they needed the loo, they were forced to cross their legs or use the churchyard.  

Churchwarden, Maggie Simons, did the research and applied to various organisations for grants for the £33,000 project. This included £2,000 from the Diocesan Development Fund. 

“It’s something I’ve never done before, and it’s been really interesting seeing it all through. The church is at the top of a hill at the edge of the village. People come for weddings and funerals and need the loo. Children come from the school, and when they need the bathroom, they have had to use the churchyard.  

“The kitchenette means we can serve hot drinks from the vestry. We are planning our first annual PCC meeting in the vestry with hot drinks and a toilet.  

“Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust is going to come, and this means we can put on refreshments. We get people walking the Ridgeway popping in too. The vestry is usually locked, but if we know there is a group coming we can make sure it’s open, and we can do refreshments.” 

Previously, Maggie has even opened the doors of her nearby home and let visitors to the church use her own bathroom facilities.

Vicar, the Revd Norma Ferguson, says: “My vision for our benefice is that we mirror the hospitality of God and we do that in big ways and small ways. One of the really important ways we do that is by making people feel welcome and comfortable inside our buildings. Our primary school, older people and people who are travelling some distance for weddings and funerals, its crucial to the way they feel about the building.  

“We’ll be able to use the church for more things. We’ll be able to have concerts and coffee mornings, small things that will make a big difference.”   

Do you need basic, but important facilities in your historic church? Why not apply to the Diocesan Development Fund for a grant?