Telling the story in flowers and music of an old Barnsley church

Telling the story of St Paul's Church, Old Town, Barnsley through flowers and music is now underway.

 For five  days the church will be gradually filled with floral displays depicting events that have occurred during the 80 years since its foundation.

Over the past few months, members of the congregration have been busy discovering more about the history of their church with its distinctive green dome and Byzantine appearance-– and finding their predecessors found raising money just as difficult then as it is today.

As Geoff Wright explains: “It seems fundraising was as much a struggle then as it is today. During the early 1930s, great efforts were made to raise funds by "selling bricks" for the building of the new church. Other events included the organising of "A Mile of Pennies".

By 1907 it was apparent that a new St Paul’s church would be needed to minster to the area’s growing population. Sir Hickman Bacon, a founder member of the Lincolnshire Automobile Club, gave a piece of land to the church but it was so undermined that it would not support such a heavy building and the site had to be abandoned – so with Sir Hickman's permission the land was sold and the present site was purchased from the Barraclough family.

So finally the building was begun and the foundation stone laid "amidst great excitement and thanksgiving". The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Sankey, had been invited to lay the foundation stone but was unable to be present due to illness so Mr Ralph Frederick Pawsey, senior partner at Newman and Bond Solicitors in Barnsley, deputised and laid the stone in the presence of the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd "Jimmy" Seaton.

And  on 19th March they celebrated 80 years since the Foundation Stone was laid -  signalling the beginning of the life of this church with its distinct Art Deco feeling and the subtly tinted windows said to be based on a design by Frank Lloyd Wright. And suspended from the centre of the interior of the dome is a magnificent “cartwheel” light.

The film of its consecration in 1938 will be on show for everyone to see. 

St Paul's Flower Festival will open this Friday (17th June) and will remain open until 5pm when preparations will be completed for a Celebration Concert starting at 7pm.

The concert will feature the U3A Choir and will be attended by the Mayor of Barnsley, the Lord-Lieutenant of South Yorkshire and the Bishop of Wakefield, Bishop Tony. Tickets are £5 including refreshments and will be available at the door.

The Flower Festival runs from Friday 17th June to Tuesday 21st June. It will be open from 10am to 5pm on Saturday, from 11am to 5pm on Sunday and from 10 am to 5pm on both Monday and Tuesday. Entrance is £3 and refreshments will be available in the Parish Hall. There will also be a film of the 1938 consecration of St Paul's showing all day in the hall. Entrance for this is free.

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