A VICAR believes a £300,000 extension could put his 11th-century Witney church “in the shop window”.
The Rev Simon Kirby hopes the extension to the church hall will promote St Mary’s Cogges to visitors who often struggle to find the entrance or realise it is a church.
It will include a curved frontage with glass windows so passers-by can see inside the church, near Cogges Manor Farm Museum in Church Lane.
Mr Kirby said: “We want to make an entrance that will be a shop window for the church.
“People don’t even realise the church is where it is because the path in front was diverted years ago.
“The curved design has been produced to draw the eye to the church and open up the centre so people can see what’s going on in here.
“We want people to know we’re a vibrant community which they could be part of.”
West Oxfordshire District Council gave planning permission last month for the demolition and replacement of the church’s 1950s extension at the entrance.
The council also gave the go-ahead for the playground to be converted into a car park plus a play area with new boundary fencing.
Mr Kirby said the current extension does not fit in with the surrounding area and the Victorian lychgate at the entrance and spire is often hidden.
He said: “I can be standing there waiting for a wedding or funeral and people just don’t see the entrance because it’s tucked away.
“Development over the years hasn’t been sympathetic to the area.
“We’re situated in a pedestrian thoroughfare where people walk past Cogges Manor Farm and the church to get into Witney.
“At the moment they just see a brick wall, but the new building will have glass windows and they will be able to look inside and see what’s going on.”
The church has so far brought in £80,000 from fundraising activities and private donations.
The extension plan for the church
It has a congregation of 200 adults and about 80 children who take part in activities such as breakfast and after-school clubs at the church hall.
Mr Kirby hopes all cash will be in place as soon as possible so the extension can be built by 2017.
It is hoped the work will attract more clubs, including groups for adults suffering from loneliness and learning difficulties.
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