Fears for future of iconic Tenby church

UNHOLY ROW: The iconic St Julian's Church at Tenby Harbour. PICTURE: Gareth Davies Photography. (4845619)

UNHOLY ROW: The iconic St Julian's Church at Tenby Harbour. PICTURE: Gareth Davies Photography. (4845619)

First published in News

THE harbour side church of St Julian’s in Tenby is at the heart of a storm of protest in the town over plans for its future.

As the Western Telegraph reported last week, proposals are being put forward to bring the 19th century church up to 21st century standards.

Tenby’s Parochial Church Council agreed in 2012 to support the idea of St Julian’s being re-ordered as a Youth Church.

The building - constructed in 1878, of stone from Caldey Island - has no water supply, toilets or disabled access, poor lighting, an inefficient heating system and had its electrical system condemned at the end of the year.

But fears are being raised over the suggested renovations, with a Facebook group (www.facebook.com/savestjulianstenby) and online petition being set up after plans for the church’s future went on show in the town.

“Having seen the plans, I am disappointed and distraught at the fact that the entire interior - the heart, the soul - of St Julian’s is being torn out and made to look like a visitor centre,” said Sarah Williams of Neyland, who has set up the petition and Facebook group.

While aware that the church is in need of work on its heating, lighting and wiring, she said that the concern was that if St Julian’s underwent its transformation it would not survive.

The plans include making a doorway through the east wall of the church to access a kitchen and toilet extension, stripping out the interior, apart from the memorial plaques and plastering the east wall which would cover the Caldey stone.

“People will not and do not want to see this piece of Tenby history changed in any way,” Ms Williams added. “Why spend an enormous amount of money on this, when many people across Tenby, and the county, are in poverty and choosing ‘heat or eat’?”

Amongst those supporting the Save St Julian’s Campaign is Tenby-born actor Charles Dale, who commented: “I chose St Julian’s for my son’s christening because it is an iconic memory for so many of us as it is. It fits into the harbour as it is. It needs to remain as it is.”

The Rector of Tenby, Canon Andrew Davies, said at the time of the plans going on display. “St Julian’s has served our local community well for over a century, and we must make sure that ministry continues for another century.

“St Julian’s is not to be just a Youth Church, and definitely not a youth club, it is to be a church for all, fit for the 21st century, and above all, a fit offering to God.”

Canon Davies said on Monday that no-one had voiced any concerns to him. He added: “But we do have a public meeting in Church House on Thursday April 3, at 6pm, at which the latest phase of our plans will be be explained in great detail. “

Comments (4)

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2:57pm Thu 27 Mar 14

vjr153 says...

Ripping out the interior of this little church and calling it a youth church will not suddenly make it a thriving church, how very naive of Canon Davies..... I do hope those able to attend the meeting as him to show them all the studies and evidence that he has, and where all these youth congregations members are going to appear from, I doubt he has any.... just trying to be trendy.......sadly. Surely it would be better to carry out much needed improvements whilst leaving the look and feel of the church the same, improve it for the people who do and will use it.... visitors, like me like it for what it is, it was created for the fishing and seafaring communities, it is an important part of their history, to rip it out in a misguided and ill informed attempt to get more and younger bottoms on seats will be nothing short of vandalism..... and a miserable failure to boot.....what then sell it off, use it for bingo? Perhaps this is the intention anyway?
Ripping out the interior of this little church and calling it a youth church will not suddenly make it a thriving church, how very naive of Canon Davies..... I do hope those able to attend the meeting as him to show them all the studies and evidence that he has, and where all these youth congregations members are going to appear from, I doubt he has any.... just trying to be trendy.......sadly. Surely it would be better to carry out much needed improvements whilst leaving the look and feel of the church the same, improve it for the people who do and will use it.... visitors, like me like it for what it is, it was created for the fishing and seafaring communities, it is an important part of their history, to rip it out in a misguided and ill informed attempt to get more and younger bottoms on seats will be nothing short of vandalism..... and a miserable failure to boot.....what then sell it off, use it for bingo? Perhaps this is the intention anyway? vjr153
  • Score: 7

11:42pm Mon 31 Mar 14

pjmorris52@gmail.com says...

My late dad Cyril Butler Morris was a parishoner at St Julians Church when he was a pupil at Greenhill Grammar School in the 20's and 30's.
He often told me that he would have a swim in the harbour either before or after church services.
He loved that "seaman's" church as he called it.
He would turn in his grave of mere thought that the church which is so quaint was to be further neglected by the Church in Wales.
NO! NO ! NO !
John Morris Vancouver British Columbia Canada
My late dad Cyril Butler Morris was a parishoner at St Julians Church when he was a pupil at Greenhill Grammar School in the 20's and 30's. He often told me that he would have a swim in the harbour either before or after church services. He loved that "seaman's" church as he called it. He would turn in his grave of mere thought that the church which is so quaint was to be further neglected by the Church in Wales. NO! NO ! NO ! John Morris Vancouver British Columbia Canada pjmorris52@gmail.com
  • Score: 1

10:18am Thu 3 Apr 14

Bilbo101 says...

This highlights one of the problems with Pembrokeshire where a lot of people have an idyllic romanticised view of such buildings and wish to keep it as they remembered it when they were young, frozen in time. This building serves little purpose at the moment other than be an dusty ornament on Tenby seafront. Changing it to a Youth Church is an excellent and positive proposal for this currently underused building.
This highlights one of the problems with Pembrokeshire where a lot of people have an idyllic romanticised view of such buildings and wish to keep it as they remembered it when they were young, frozen in time. This building serves little purpose at the moment other than be an dusty ornament on Tenby seafront. Changing it to a Youth Church is an excellent and positive proposal for this currently underused building. Bilbo101
  • Score: -1

9:00am Wed 9 Apr 14

vjr153 says...

The only dusty ornaments that need modernising are the clergy.... they dress and behave as if it is still the 15th century........ and wonder why their churches are largely empty and why the bulk of the population feel they are out of touch...... The Bishop says in his block that it will be a very sad day when the church is run by public opinion...... All I can say is ignore public opinion in the way that you have for generations and we will watch you sink further into obscurity and irrelevance until you are extinct.....

The plans have been on display at the church but I wonder why they are not available online as part of the consultation.... I would also be fascinated to see the evidence to support the project, for example where are all these young people going to appear from to use the church.... or is the Rev Canon Davies having a Kevin Costner moment..... you know build it and they will come? Sadly this isn't Hollywood and if the project is as ill conceived as it appears to be then this will be nothing more than expensive white elephant.......
The only dusty ornaments that need modernising are the clergy.... they dress and behave as if it is still the 15th century........ and wonder why their churches are largely empty and why the bulk of the population feel they are out of touch...... The Bishop says in his block that it will be a very sad day when the church is run by public opinion...... All I can say is ignore public opinion in the way that you have for generations and we will watch you sink further into obscurity and irrelevance until you are extinct..... The plans have been on display at the church but I wonder why they are not available online as part of the consultation.... I would also be fascinated to see the evidence to support the project, for example where are all these young people going to appear from to use the church.... or is the Rev Canon Davies having a Kevin Costner moment..... you know build it and they will come? Sadly this isn't Hollywood and if the project is as ill conceived as it appears to be then this will be nothing more than expensive white elephant....... vjr153
  • Score: 2

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