For the past six hundred years, All Saint’s Church has dominated the Herefordian skyline. Built in the 13th and 14th Centuries, the 125m spire was crowned with a gilded cock at the turn of the 20th Century and secured using cast iron rods through the stonework. This new focal point of the spire was one of the many causes which threatened to remove this building permanently from our skyline.
As the cast iron rods expanded due to rusting, it blew the stonework apart which inturn, began to allow water into the buildings fabric. This ongoing weathering, culminated in 1996 when a dangerous structures notice was served on the building as it was feared that the whole top third of the spire could fall. A 200m exclusion zone to Hereford City centre was cornered off and RRA were commissioned to make emergency inspections to detail the cause of this decay and work out a possible way forward. After a thorough and detailed inspection, it was found that the top section of the spire and other areas some means of water proofing were urgently needed to ensure the life of this Grade II* listed building. Emergency funding was granted and repairs began on shoring up and rebuilding the spire.
To pay for these repairs RRA Architect’s team, together with the priest in charge, proposed a bold intervention in to this urban church, one which would be the first of its kind in the UK. RRA proposed the reordering of the church which allowed it to free up space and become more flexible. A new café space with mezzanine seating was proposed allowing customers to dine in places which are usually inaccessible in churches. This new café space was unlike anything else seen in the UK and proved very popular with religious and non religious people alike. So much so, the café exceeded its targets within a year and half of opening instead of the planned 3 year period. This allowed the church to become a multiuse space, catering for liturgical and secular activities. This bold intervention used freestanding structural supports whilst retaining as much historic fabric as possible, making the new intervention reversible.
The project, with it’s inspired design and ground breaking ideas won an RIBA Award, one of the highest accolades in the spectrum of architecture.
Even 20 years on, the café is thriving and has become one of Hereford’s top café/ restaurants. The mix of worship and secular activities are working well together and RRA are proud to boast this as one of our most successful projects. RRA continue to be the leading Architectural practice in church reordering and have many successful examples across the country. Our current projects include the largest church reordering in Gloucester and Lincoln Diocese’s. Click on our projects page for more information.