Servery and disabled wc at St Mary Magdalene, Hart, HartlepoolThe PCC of St Mary Magdalene, Hart

We are absolutely delighted with every aspect of this work. It has given the building  a new lease of life. Many thanks for all your involvement with this project as it's genuinely appreciated by everyone who enters the building.
Revd Janet Burbury

The Grade 1 Saxon Church of St Mary Magdalene serves the parish of Hart and Middle Warren, just above Hartlepool.  An early wooden church dating from 675 was rebuilt in the 12th Century with additions to the Saxon nave of the north arcade, chancel arch and tower.  The south aisle was added in the 13th Century with further additions over subsequent centuries.

The latest improvement came after 10 years of planning for new facilities comprising of a toilet with baby changing facilities, kitchen servery and a flexible informal space.  Initially an external extension scheme was considered and approved but proved too expensive to fund.  Encouraged by the Durham Diocesan Advisory Committee and Historic England, a review of the project considered moving the facilities inside the church. A key consideration, as always was drainage, and a sewage treatment plant was chosen as there was no mains drainage or chance for a trench arch. The church is located on a Saxon site and is close to the important remains of medieval fishponds and we were helped by Tees Archaeology in siting and installing the tank.

Internally the review’s key issue for the project was to have minimal intrusion into the internal space.  The design utilised the western corner of the north aisle, the construction to be dark oak, blending almost invisibly into with the dark oak wall panelling and adjacent organ – in effect a “stealth installation”.

The side panel low height to the counter allows the adjacent Victorian stained-glass window of the Good Shepherd to have the greatest impact when seen as you arrive.  This has been enhanced further by the relocation of the Victorian vestry screen from the east end of the church to the tower arch opening, significantly increasing natural light t o t he aisle, while the tower now houses the relocated and updated vestry.

The availability of toilet facilities has enabled several older members of the congregation to return to worship and community events to be held. The baby changing facilities are welcomed by the many families who come for baptisms and family worship.

The removal of the pews from the north aisle in front of the new works was initially contentious but has now provided the church with a key space, encouraging more flexible and secular use of the church and it is much liked.  Furniture maker’s Treske provided forty stacking St Magnus oak rush seated chairs all darkly fumed to blend in with the church and servery works and the blend in very well with the decorative scheme. Most of the chairs are sponsored by members of the congregation in memory of a loved one or special family event.

The church received generous funding from Mondegreen Ltd who administer the Landfill Communities Fund.  Main contractors Blackburn Marshall Construction working with the PCC, and under the guidance from the church architect have put in place a facility that will enable St Mary Magdalene to play an active part in the spiritual wellbeing of all who come to Hart as worshipers, pilgrims or visitors.

The practical advantages of the new facilities have been immediate; and, Revd. Janet and the church wardens are clear that, the many contributions by all involved, are most recognised, by the positive acceptance of the visual changes by both congregation and visitors alike.

Project Team

The Church and PCC of St Mary Magdalene, Hart

Beaumont Brown Architects LLP

Blackburn Marshall, Main Contractor

Treske, Seating

Principal Funding, Mondegreen Ltd, Landfill Communities Fund

The Church and Community of Hart