St. John’s Church, Egham

Neilcott have been appointed by the PCC of St. John’s Church, Egham to construct a new Church Centre. The fine existing Georgian Grades II* Listed Church Building was re-ordered and provides the congregation with a high quality building for worship activities.
Within the ground of St. John’s Church the existing Church Centre constructed in the 1970’s is no longer fit for purpose. The heavily used building is currently used for all the church catering linked services, meeting rooms and the extensive children’s groups, which include the Playbox Nursery, together with use for community functions.  The existing church centre is a single storey Reema pre-cast concrete structure occupying an area of 280sqm to the south of the main church. The existing church centre does not comply with the Disability Discrimination Act, being separated by approximately 92m of steeply sloping paths from the main church building.  The new church centre is sited to the south east of the existing Georgian Church, linking lightly to the south east vestry with a glazed foyer. Great care has been taken to maintain the integrity of the existing Georgian Church and to enhance the character of the site and historic environment.
At the centre of the site is the 19th century church of St. John the Baptist (Grade II* Listed) by Henry Rhodes between 1817 and 1820. The church and its associated cemetery are located on a higher ground surface than Manor Farm Lane, and the change in height is reinforced by a brick retaining wall. The change in levels is as a consequence of the crypt vaults constructed beneath the church and the effect of burials over the centuries.  To the north of the site, adjacent to the High Street is an 18th century Lychgate (Grade II*) which is believed to be the porch of the former 12th century Norman Church which pre-dated the present Georgian building. The foundations and vaults of this earlier church still survive under and near to the present church.  The cemetery dates back to at least the 16th century and lies predominantly to the west, north and south of the existing church. It contains a number of Listed chest tombs and headstones predominantly from the 18th and 19th centuries. Due to the complex nature of the site works were undertaken in two phases with phase 1 comprising an enabling works package for the future construction of the new church centre.

This included exhumation of tombs and burial sites under an archaeological watching brief, asbestos removal, demolition of the existing church centre and smaller areas of existing church sheet piling, underpinning of existing church and excavation to future formation level. Provision of temporary drainage and new services. Following careful analysis of the topography of the site and its historic and special architectural interest, together with discussion with Runnymede Borough Council and English Heritage representatives, the lower area of land to the South East of the existing building was identified as the preferred site for the new Church Centre. This location maintains the existing views into the site of the existing North, West and South elevations of the Georgian building and allows the new extension to link onto the existing building at rear East end.  Construction forms three elements firstly, a small infill extension to the rear East elevation of the Georgian structure, to replace the existing 1950’s lean-to infill, which will house a crèche at ground level and an office at the new lower ground floor level. A new minister’s office is to be constructed at the rear of the South East Vestry. These elements are constructed in matching London stock brickwork, with stone string courses to match the Eastern elements of the Henry Rhodes building.

In order to provide a visually light link to the existing building, a fully glazed foyer link is constructed on the East elevation. This area contains a large Foyer, with a level entrance from Manor Farm Lane on the East side and an entrance at the existing church between all levels o f the new and existing building.  The New Church Centre building provides suitable, flexible accommodation for children’s groups and nursery on the ground floor and spaces for catering, fellowship and community events on the first floor, linking with the existing church sanctuary level.  The New Church Centre is a 21st century addition to an historic site which has structures from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The architectural proposal is to construct a high quality contemporary building, with a civic character and reference to the materials, scale and proportioning of the existing Georgian Church.  To meet DDA Regulations, it is necessary to make reasonable adjustment to existing buildings. The New Church Centre will provide level access from Manor Farm Lane and the path from the West of the site, together with a new lift to provide access to all levels. The link to the existing church will provide much needed level access between the existing building and the New Church Centre.egham-5---5k