Open-air service to mark 150 years of serving the community

The Village Green, Stoke Gifford

Hundreds of people will be taking part in a special service outside St Michael’s Church, Stoke Gifford at 11am on Sunday (23rd June) to celebrate more than 150 years of serving the community.

The open-air service will take place on The Green (pictured above), mid-way between the church and the former Victorian school room which is now a church and community centre.

The Old School Rooms, which date from 1863, were originally built to house St Michael’s School, at a time when Queen Victoria was on the throne and Stoke Gifford had just a few hundred residents.

The school, which today has more than 580 pupils, moved to new premises in Ratcliffe Drive in 1988 and the old building is used by St Michael’s Church to serve a population of around 12,500.

Hundreds of past and current pupils and their teachers are expected to attend the celebration, which is being hosted by the church and primary school. The service will include songs and stories about school life, Victorian hymns and a prize for anyone who comes in Victorian dress.

In 1988 after serving as Stoke Gifford’s primary school for 125 years the old school building reverted back to St Michael’s Church and has continued to serve the community. The following year a pre-school was launched, which has since expanded and moved to the former Vicarage building.

In 2002, after the congregation raised more than £1million, it re-opened as the Old School Rooms with offices and meeting space for the local community. A coffee shop followed shortly after in 2004. Today, up to 1000 people use the meeting spaces each week and the coffee shop serves hundreds of customers with hot and cold drinks, cakes and lunches.

The local area has continued to change and grow. Stoke Gifford now has the fifth largest university in the country, is home to major national businesses and there are plans for over 3,000 homes to be built in the immediate area by 2025. St Michael’s School is adding an extra reception class this year and St Michael’s Church has grown by more than 70% over the last 10 years.

Construction work is due to begin next month (July) on the first stage of the church’s ambitious £5.8 million Heart of the Community project. The project’s ambitions are to further upgrade the Old School Rooms, to refurbish the church building, and build a 600 seat auditorium with community rooms on the neighbouring barns site in North Road. When the auditorium is complete the whole school, which is too big to meet in the school hall, will be able to gather in the same room again.

The Rev. Simon Jones, Rector of St Michael’s said:

“We would love to serve our local community and beyond for at least another 150 years! Our passion is connecting people together and making a real difference to each of our lives and to the community as a whole.”

Pupils of St Michael’s School, past and present, are especially welcome to the celebration service which will be followed by games, a photo exhibition by St Michael’s School and the last chance to visit the site of the Old Barns before the diggers arrive in early July!

Church members look around the derelict site at the Old Barns.

Photo: Church members look around the derelict site at the Old Barns.

Source: Press release from St Michael’s Church

Map: Location of the Old Barns in North Road (Google Maps)

More info: Redevelopment of the Old Barns (The Journal)

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