The aims of the project are:
- Involve the wider community in the care and development of this historic building
- Research the history of the church and village
- Look at how the church can be developed to support tourism
- Consider how church could be enhanced and used more; as a venue for the arts and education, as well as a spiritual, peaceful place for wellbeing and faith
- Asses what building work -such as the installation of heating and toilets - would need to be done to support the emerging vision for the church
With and for the community for Blanchland
The project, and the future of the church, is only viable with the support of the community of Blanchland. So, a pie n’ pea supper was held on April 11th to mark the launch of the project in the village. Twenty-two local people came along to learn more about the plans and ways to become involved, with the wonderful result that there is now an active, committed and talented group of volunteers who form the Project Group.
The next step was to hold meetings to consider the three main areas of the project: history & care for the church, tourism, and consulting the community over how the church could be developed. Meetings took place in the middle of May and key questions emerged. How do we find out more about the history of Blanchland? How do we collect and store information and stories? What impact does tourism have on the village? How do we consult residents on their ideas and thoughts about the church? What needs to be done to revamp the Blanchland website? And much more…
Work has since begun in earnest. To seek inspiration, project group members have visited relevant sites and projects in the region and in the wider country; places such as the estate villages and churches of Norham, Ford and Etal in the North East, and also in Gloucestershire, Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire.
A tourism consultant and the church architect are working with the project team; business planning is being undertaken; and an archive of significant historical information is being brought together. An important date in the diary is September 27th when there is a community event of music, tours and talks, food and drink, to consult local people on the plans to develop the use of the church.
Your involvement is important!
We really need your help. As the project develops, we want to hear a wide range of thoughts and ideas about how the church can be used in the future for the benefit of the village. Why is it special and important to you? How do you envisage the Abbey can be used in the future and what would help to enhance it as a sacred and community space? We would particularly like to hear of any inspiring examples elsewhere you have come across.