The Parish Church
St Barnabas Church was built in 1890 and for 128 years has served its parish in Gillingham. It is a ‘sizeable church with considerable presence in the local landscape’. ‘The large interior space is well cared for and of some value as an open space.’ (CBC report 2013, available on request) The attractive interior benefits from pews that are not fixed to the floor, allowing the space to be creatively used for worship and other events. In 2015, a small kitchen and new toilets were added to the South aisle, allowing the space to be used for community activities, such as the popular Wednesday club, as well as for hospitality after worship. A good attractive renovation could make this an appealing venue for affordable wedding receptions.
The church is a good example of spectacular Victorian Architecture and this combined with the recently (2012) restored Stained Glass Windows makes it a large and beautiful venue which is the perfect backdrop for Weddings, Baptisms and School Events. These have grown in popularity in the last three years.
St Barnabas also benefits from a large hall, the first building (church) on the site, which is rented out to a community preschool for much of the week. This provides a useful revenue stream, as well as serving a real community need. A member of church sits on the Preschool Board. The hall is also hired out for parties and is a regular venue for the Medway Night Shelter, both as a shelter venue and the regular meeting place for the Board of Trustees. Once a month the hall hosts a parish lunch for members of the church providing a two course home-cooked meal, for which a new range cooker has recently been purchased.
A small house, once the residence of the verger, is attached to the hall. A reasonable rental income is attained from this house and we have long-term tenants in residence.
Work started during the autumn of 2018 to repair and make safe the retaining walls around the church is nearing completion. This has improved the aspect of the church making it more welcoming and immediately noticeable from two busy roads.
The church is well-maintained and good condition. The PCC and community is eager to continue worship within the church and recognises that this may require widening the use of building for activities in addition to worship. The PCC is keen to work with the new priest and the Open and Sustainable team of the Cathedral and Church Building Division to look at the possibilities of combined use and to widen the potential of the building.
The acoustics are, for example, ideal for musical performances. However the church heating system is not very effective and nor is its lighting. Fundraising towards upgrading these systems is being actively undertaken with a grant towards the works obtained recently. Work needs to be started before the end of two years. There is also limited car parking on site. ‘It has a good location, with good transport links and with a small amount of off-road parking.