Shropshire Star

Church nave eyed for Ludlow Food Festival venue

The nave of one of Shropshire's oldest and most recognised churches could be used as a venue for one of the region's biggest food festivals in future years, it has been revealed.


Talks have taken place between representatives of St Laurence's Church in Ludlow and organisers of the town's food festival with a view to using the space once pews have been cleared.

Church leaders want to open the area up for community use as part of the £4.8 million Vision for St Laurence Project which will also see the church roof, wooden carvings, stained glass and stone pinnacles repaired.

But no timescale has yet been set for any arrangement with the food festival.

Beth Heath, operations director of Ludlow Food Festival, said it was hoped the church could be used for part of the festival in the next few years.

In its current form, the church has stood in the town for about 550 years, with the first written record of a parish church on that site dating back to 1199.

"We began the project by asking every household and every person in Ludlow what they would like to do with their church – that's 4,500 households, nearly 10 thousand people," said clerk of works Shaun Ward in a video released to the public. "Across the board they want to use the nave of the church, this large public space, in Ludlow – nearly 600 square metres."

Mr Ward said that to transform the space into a public venue would mean clearing the area of pews and installing a new floor, underfloor heating and new lighting.

He said: "All of these things would enable us to open up the space so that people can come, enjoy concerts, arts events, perhaps even we'd host part of the food festival in the nave."

Mrs Heath said: "We have spoken to them about it. The more venues we can have in Ludlow the better.

"It is a very small town and we only have a certain amount of space – but they have talked about getting rid of the pews and other things that would open the space up.

"A lot of people come to the food festival to visit the castle, it has that atmosphere that you just can't get in a building.

"And I think the church does the same so it would be great to have parts of the festival there. The views from the top of the building are better than most places in Ludlow and the whole county. As soon as it can get involved we would welcome it to host part of the festival."

Funding for the Vision for St Laurence Project has come from the Conservation Trust for St Laurence's, English Heritage and Shropshire Historic Churches Fund.

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