As part of the Mayflower 400 project we have been completing historical research around the UK. One of our topics has been the Reformation and its impact on local churches.
We recently went to look at six churches with Roger Wilson, an expert in Church history, to see how they have changed over the last 400+ years. The churches we visited were spread across Leicestershire, Rutland and Northamptonshire.
The sixth and final church we went to see was Emmanuel Church, Loughborough, Leicestershire. The church building was built in the mid 1850s and has seen considerable changes since that time and continues to attract a very active congregation. In a time of declining congregations for many churches it could provide an insight into creative ways such buildings can attract and service the local community.
Like many churches that attracted public funding this resulted in many pews being free. Others were purchased by families or guilds that allowed members to be seated.
Over the years the Church has seen many changes. The last being in the mid 1990s. The image below shows the first re-ordering in 1890s. Notice the second image below shows the balcony and 1st floor seating.
By the 1980’s the 1st floor balcony seating had been removed.
Further re-ordering occurred every few years until the last major one in the mid 1990s.
The Church now has a very open feel with flexible seating and an open plan nave.
The picture below shows the remains of the first floor balcony that originally went down both sides as well. This area is where the band and the organ would have been located. Today the musicians are seated with the congregation
A number of original memorials and features remain
…including the stained glass windows.
The altar is now flexible and adaptable space.
The pulpit is now an open fronted lectern so removing any physical barrier to the congregation.
To meet the needs of visitors and members of the congregation food and drink facilities have been added.
Programs for different audiences can be created and delivered effectively.
Even a crèche is provided so ensuring the facilities can used for people with young families when attending courses and events.