HOLY Trinity has been given the go-ahead to build a £500,000 extension.
The single storey stone extension to the south side will house a new clergy vestry and also much-need toilets.
Work is expected to begin in May and be completed in time for the Shakespeare Birthday celebrations in 2016.
The project will also see the gloomy St Peter’s Chapel refurbished to give it a lighter brighter more welcoming feel, and allow it to be used for small services, wedding blessings and as a quiet area for private prayer. It will also make the church’s American-donated stained glass window and First World War memorial more accessible.
Mike Warrillow, Chairman of the Parochial Church Council buildings team, said: “The extension is a modest design in stone and is totally in character with the rest of the Grade 1 listed building.
“The extension will be confined to the existing pathway and not encroach on the graveyard. It doesn’t change the view across the river and it doesn’t change the view as you walk down the path.”
Holy Trinity’s vicar, the Rev Patrick Taylor, welcomed the extension.
He said: “As a 21st century church we need these facilities, not least for the growing number of young families now attending our church. People are having to cross to the Parish Centre or alternatively use the toilets in the RSC gardens, and that’s a fair walk for children or elderly people.
“Our church will now be much more accessible for worship and community events.”
Holy Trinity has the funds to finance the extension, but an appeal will be launched by the Friends of Shakespeare’s Church to raise a further anticipated £150,000 for the refurbishment of St Peter’s Chapel and essential repairs to a crumbling gable end in the south transept.
Since being formed in 2003, the Friends have raised more than £1 million towards restoration and improvement projects in the church.
Emergency repairs are currently underway on the main entrance after stonework was found to be loose above the north porch.