The Architects' Review of St Beuno’s
by Fr Roger Dawson SJ
At the last Friends’ Weekend we had a consultation session with Purcells, the architects that we have appointed to review the building and produce a ‘masterplan’ for the development of St Beuno’s over the next five years. Elgan Jones and Rob Chambers received many helpful observations and insights and came away with a strong sense of the importance of St Beuno’s and the building to many people, and the importance of the beauty of the location on the edge of the Vale of Clwyd. Since then they have met with the St Beuno’s Management Team and several times with the retreat team, and have produced three ‘options’ for the future. The Steering Group has now considered those options and the architects are working on a development of one of them which seems to be the most favourable one.
As usually happens with a process like this, we have been working in the imaginative area of ideas and possibilities, but once the proposals are costed we hit the reality of the limitations of our budget! The Province Trustees have been generous, but the costed proposals exceed our budget and so we also need to make modifications so that we have an affordable proposal. Some of the key aspects of the preferred option are:
· open up the original entrance to St Beuno’s below the tower: this will achieve a much better equal-access ‘arrival’ at the house
· construct a biomass boiler: this will reduce our carbon footprint, and our bills, and will make the existing boiler house (btween the Coach House and the main house) available
· construct a whole house meeting space and some smaller rooms in the existing boiler house area: this will enable us to have larger meetings here, especially for the British Jesuits, and will free up space in other parts of the house
· make the Chapel accessible from the current Service Corridor on the Upper Ground Floor via steps up to the existing outside porch (see one of the proposed designs from Purcell above)
· review and reorder the Chapel, including new lighting
· make a ‘bridge’ to the Square Garden from the Admin Corridor to open up access to this beautiful area
Additionally we have three building projects already underway: we are completing necessary stone repairs to the dining room exterior and the link with the tower (not the sort of work that most of us notice once it is done, but it is essential for the fabric of the building); refurbishment of Rhewl Cottage and provision of four ensuite rooms; and ensuiting of Priests Gallery. This means that by Easter we will have an extra 12 ensuite rooms. All these works will cost over £½ million, and are funded by the generosity of the Province Trustees and our benefactors.
The other work that commences in the spring will be work on the woodlands which have not had any planned attention in living memory, and I will tell you more about this in another edition of the Friends Newsletter.
Thank you for all your support for St Beuno’s and I hope that the New Year has started well for you.
Fr Roger Dawson SJ