One of England's largest and grandest churches launches multi-million pound development quest
A church called "the fairest, goodliest, most famous parish church in England" by Queen Elizabeth I is embarking on a development project worth millions of pounds.
Worship has been going at the Grade 1 listed St Mary Redcliffe church in Bristol for 900 years and it's believed to be the largest parish church in terms of physical size in the whole of England.
It is also the tallest building in Bristol, with the church spire reaching 89 metres off the ground.
Despite the building's heritage its disabled toilet is down a flight of stairs and it doesn't have a suitable hall in order to serve the community or showcase its premises or artefacts.
After a competition last year to find a suitable architect Rev Dan Tyndall, vicar of St Mary Redcliffe, revealed to Premier the church is now putting together a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund in November in the hope of receiving millions of pounds towards building of a new complex on church premises.
Rev Dan believes the space could cost up to £15 million in total, with plans to unveil the building in 2024.
It coincides with Bristol City Council plans to regenerate Redcliffe - traditionally a low income area - with a new urban residential space. The Council has encouraged St Mary Redcliffe to pursue its building project alongside theirs.
The vicar told Premier: "The space in St Mary Redcliffe is all above six foot on the ground. There's no floor space at all once the church is fully chaired.
"We have a Grade 1 Listed building that people travel from all over the world to visit and we don't have anywhere for them to investigate and understand the history of the building, or even an understanding of the Christian faith.
"We don't have a hall in which to meet. The only space that we have, really, is the church... None of the backstage stuff if fit for purpose, and if we want to continue to expand and to increase our mission as a Christian community, then we need better facilities."
Listen to Premier's Aaron James speaking to Rev Dan Tyndall: