Halifax Minster will close for 11 weeks on the 11th January for major building alterations which will make it more inviting for those in the secular community, bringing the Minster closer to its original, medieval uses.
After being built by Benedictine monks, for the first 300 years that it served Halifax there were no pews in the Minster and, as well as being used for worship, it hosted the weekly market, the administration of law and order and political meetings.
The building work taking place in January will once again open up the space in the Minster ‘enabling a wider use of the building as it seeks to serve the community of Halifax and West Yorkshire in an improved environment’.
Revd Canon Hilary Barber, Vicar of Halifax Minster, says, "I am very excited for this work to be complete!
"The Minster has an incredibly rich history and it is wonderful to see that it can return to it's roots as an area to be used by everyone in the community.
"The Minster has always been a welcoming place and it's very exciting to see that the new interior will openly represent our warmth and friendliness."
The work will involve removing the current dais, filling the void underneath with weight bearing material, removing the pews and their platforms which currently face inwards at the front of the nave, moving the old flags which remain usable to the side aisles, laying new Yorkshire stone to create a large, open, flexible space and building a new movable, octagonal dais for worship.
After the 17th century pew boxes were installed in the church 600 years ago, those in the secular community were left as the building was claimed for worship.
Today the Minster welcomes thousands of people every year from all the faith communities of Calderdale, and to those of no faith, and this Christmas will see around 14,000 people come through the Minster to hear the Christmas story.
This widening participation project will help to support the mission of the Minster by making the secular community feel more welcome while helping the building to generate an income as it boasts a large cultural, civic, and education program.
The work is being funded by SITA, the land fill site company; Lloyds Banking Group; The Friends of Halifax Minster; and possibly Garfield Weston, a grant-giving charity (tbc early October).
To find out more about Halifax Minster and the building work taking place, please visit their website here: http://www.halifaxminster.org.uk/