Major Refurbishment

Following the Second Vatican Council, Vatican II, which concluded December 8th 1965, a number of major changes were made to the liturgy and administrative practices with the intention of making the Church more efficient and more acceptable to the 20th century world.

Most obvious were changes in the mass, which had previously been said in Latin, with the priest facing away from the congregation, often praying silently. After the Council, the feel of the mass changed drastically. It was now to be conducted in the language of the people and participation was encouraged in new ways, with new possibilities granted for music and singing, and women allowed into upfront roles as readers and Eucharistic ministers, as well as altar servers in some places.

To allow such changes to be implemented at St Mary Magdalens, major changes were required to the layout of the church built in the 1950s. The architect and driving force in carrying out these changes was Fr Anthony Sketch and, under his guidance, the church was re-modelled in 1978:

  • The original sacristies were removed and a new sanctuary created;
  • A new stone altar, facing the people, and a new lectern were commissioned, each matching the original font. The font was moved from the rear baptistry to the sanctuary;
  • A mezzanine choir gallery was created over the entrance with new sacristies for robing and a confessional;
  • Magnificent stain glass was commissioned for the eastern wall behind the new sanctuary;
  • New lighting was installed.

At the same time, the church was re-decorated in the papal colours, new robes were ordered for the altar servers and matching sacred vessels, crucifix, tabernacle, candle holders, processional cross, thurible, paschal candle stand, cruets, presidential chair and servers chairs were obtained - paid for by parish subscriptions. A second-hand pipe organ was acquired from Hadleigh church and installed into the new gallery.

The result was a very attractive church interior suitably updated to reflect the changes instigated through Vatican II. Following the re-modelling, the church was consecrated on the feast of St Mary Magdalen, 22nd July 1979.

´╗┐The re-modelled church in 1979

Through a collaboration with our friends at the Hollesley Bay Colony, the original church pews which were very dark in colour, were stripped to bare wood and refurbished in 2016 and finished in a lighter colour. Also in 2016, a new sound system was installed.

In 2017, a new electronic organ was installed, funded as the parish project through the Diocesan Alive in Faith initiative, and the old pipe organ was re-homed to a church in Poland. The gallery, built as part of the 1978 conversion, was revised in 2018 with the curtain wall being lowered to improve visibility of the altar from the gallery and new wrought iron balustrade installed.

In 2019, the church lighting was upgraded to new LED fittings to reduce running costs and eliminate high level work required to replace lamps in the old units.

The latest works completed in December 2019 can be seen in the pictures below and include the re-instatement of the original 1955 stone font and matching lectern from the 1979 remodelling, both of which were removed in the noughties. At the same time, the opportunity was taken to refurbish and refinish the floor.