|Cathedral Centre in its original guise as a Boy's School|
St Mary’s Hall was built in 1881, as a school for boys. After the Second World War, when no longer needed as a school, it was used as a parish Hall. With the formation of the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton in 1965, its use was widened to cater for Diocesan events, and modifications were made to provide some kitchen facilities, more toilets and easier access to the lower level.
For some years now it has been apparent that a comprehensive ‘makeover’ was long overdue. The whole building was looking shabby, and the kitchen, heating system, toilet facilities and access for the disabled fell far below acceptable standards. It was time to transform it into a fitting venue for meetings and social events for the Parish and Diocese for the 21st century.
The design, worked out with St Anne’s Gate Architects, of Salisbury, tries to make the best use of all the spaces available. And new spaces were created by excavating under the whole front of the building to make what had previously just been voids under the floor into usable rooms, thus freeing up space elsewhere. This involved extensive underpinning to the foundations, which, due to structural damage resulting from an ancient tree stump left under the original building, had to be extended along the whole front of the building.
In the finished building, all parts of the Upper and Lower Halls are accessible to the disabled via ramps and a special wheelchair lift, and a new meeting room has been created which can be used on its own or in conjunction with the main hall. The Music Office will be re-located at the lower level. New heating, lighting and fire alarm systems will be installed. Improved storage space, a much enlarged, and fully equipped, kitchen and updated toilets will complete the transformation.
To celebrate the transformation of the building, and emphasise its link with the Cathedral, the refurbished building is to be called The Cathedral Centre. The large hall at the upper level will retain the name St Mary’s Hall, the smaller hall at the lower level will be called St Philip Howard Hall, and the meeting room at the upper level (currently the music office) will be called the Cashman Room after our first bishop, David Cashman.
This is a big project for a small parish, so any contribution to the cost would be very gratefully received. Cheques should be made payable to ‘Arundel Cathedral’ and sent to: Bishop Kieran, Cathedral House, Parsons Hill, Arundel, BN19 9AY. Please do remember to gift aid your donation if you are a tax payer.