Newport Minster ‘at risk’ no more

    13 Nov. 2023

    A PROJECT to transform Newport Minster will see it become a cultural magnet as well as a spiritual hub for the whole of the Isle of Wight.

    The final phase of the church’s renewal project is now underway, and is expected to be complete by Spring 2024, when the minster will re-open to the public.

    The changes inside Newport Minster come after five phases of a project to conserve its exterior, including re-pointing, re-roofing, cleaning the historic stonework and repairing the tower clock.

    Work is now taking place to stabilise the floors, introduce an underfloor heating system, and install better toilets, a kitchen, and meeting rooms. New display boards will inform its 30,000 annual visitors about the minster’s rich history.

    Refurbishment work inside Newport Minster

    The church plans to reopen to the public next Spring, when it will be able to host exhibitions, concerts, meetings, and plays. It will also serve as a centre for learning and wellbeing activities.

    The external renovations have also led to the removal of Newport Minster from Historic England’s ‘At Risk’ register. The charity assesses the condition of historic sites and identifies those most vulnerable to neglect or decay.

    Jacqueline Gazzard, chair of the Friends of Newport Minster, said, “Taking the minster off the ‘At Risk’ register is another milestone, and it is so exciting to see it start to come to life again.”

    While the minster remains closed during the refurbishment, worship services and the cafe have found a temporary home in Newport Parish Hall in Town Lane.

    The Rev Emma Cooksey, team vicar of Newport and Carisbrooke with Gatcombe, said, “After many years of hard work, we are pleased to have reached this point in our journey. It has been down to the dedication of a team rector, staff, volunteers, and supporters, working tirelessly to move this project forward through difficult times. We can’t wait to unveil the new building next year.”

    The minster is also hosting a couple of talks in November, which will give you a chance to see the work taking place at close quarters. Architect John Bailey will speak on ‘Evolving Heritage, Sustainable Future’ at 7pm on November 15. And archivist Richard Smout will speak about ‘Curates and Congregations: the People of Newport Minster’ at 7pm on November 21.

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