A Trade Magazine for Northern Ireland's Building & Design Professionals
The Holy and Undivided Trinity Parish Church, Magheralin
A closer look at a restoration project that finds the perfect balance between respecting the history of the church while planning for the future
When a church has been so successful, the easy decision is to simply keep things as they are. But as a progressive Parish, The Holy and Undivided Trinity Parish Church, Magheralin, is not one to keep still. The impressive church building at New Forge Road, just off the main Lurgan-Moira Road in Magheralin, has been part of the local landscape in its current form since 1890, with evidence of Christian worship in the area stretching back to medieval times.
Yet when it came to a recent refurbishment, the focus was very much on respecting the past while preparing for the future – and a look at the final outcome proves that has been achieved. In appointing Des Cairns Architecture, the Select Vestry found a kindred spirit that was singing off the same hymn sheet.
“The Select Vestry made some very strong decisions in preparing the building for the future and ensuring it would have a continuing role in the local community,” explained Des. “There is a history of long and successful ministry in the area, so that can prove difficult when it comes to making major changes. But I believe we have been able to find the best of both worlds with this project.”
The initial work focused on restoring the exterior of the building, with roof repairs, gutter alternations lead work and stone restoration all being carried out.
“We started with a complete survey being carried out by Building Conservation Surveyor, Chris McCollum, and once we had an idea of the state of the building envelope, we then turned our attentions to the interior,” added Des. “It needed a complete electrical rewiring and also needed a new heating system, so this proved to be the perfect time for looking at how best to reconfigure and reimagine the internal space.”
The history of the church combined with the fact it is a Grade B+ Listed Building meant that the conservation principles of minimum intervention, maximum retention had to be adhered to. Yet that doesn’t mean that the internal design can’t be inventive.
One of the simple changes is that virtually all the pews have now been replaced with upholstered wood–framed chairs, which allows for a flexible internal layout to be achieved, if required. However, some of the original pews remain in key areas to retain a direct link to the church’s history.
The baptismal font has been moved to a more central setting at the rear of the church. The practical yet flexible approach is perfectly illustrated by the south transcept. This area has been subtly separated off from the rest of the church by a striking full height, planar wall. This space has its own heating and can be used as a meeting room while, during the service, it is perfect for families with young children, who are able to follow the service through the new AV system without worrying about disturbing others.
New draft lobbies have been added at the front and rear entrances to the church, while the addition of an accessible toilet with baby changing and discreet facilities such as a mini kitchen have again illustrated the practical approach while also covering important areas such as accessibility and emergency escape routes.
“The Parish is rightly proud of this beautiful building. It is high Victorian in character, which is relatively unusual for the area, and the church has become a focal point for some imaginative and popular events over the years, so the changes that have been made will build on this. “Retaining the historical aspect of the building is vital, but what has been achieved here is also a practical approach that will help the church carry out its work effectively and have a sustainable future.”