‘Inspire’ – Transforming our church to become the heart of TQ1
St Mary Magdalene Church, Torquay secures National Lottery support
St Mary Magdalene (Upton Parish Church) (“St Mags”), Torquay is excited to announce that it has received a grant of £138,300 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for phase 1 of its ‘Inspire’ project. Thanks to National Lottery, the project aims to reconnect the community of Upton to its history and heritage and the life of the diverse community of St. Mags.
Phase 1 of the project is divided into six streams. The major stream concentrates on essential safety and conservation work, mainly to the church tower and spire of Torquay’s oldest Victorian church. This will safeguard the church structure both for those using the building and, also for those passing by and “improve” the appearance of the Upper Union Street site.
The church community already run a Community Café, The Living Room and a pre-school group, The Play Room, but the National Lottery grant will enable the church community to deliver additional streams. These include free community and school art projects, an on-line archive, community garden, historical fun days with partners Unleashed Community Drama. All these activities will bring to life the history of St Mags and Upton welcoming all members of the community.
As a ‘curtain-raiser’ to celebrate the Church’s rich heritage with the local community a Victorian Christmas Fayre is being held on Saturday 14th December with themed stalls, “meet the Victorians”, games and free activities; all are welcome.
Rev. Sam Leach, Rector of St. Mags said that “We’re delighted to have received the enthusiastic support of The National Lottery Heritage Fund in this grant. The Church building and the community that fills it most days of the week, are passionate about the top end of Torquay town centre, wanting to help people connect with the Church’s rich heritage and history as well as the present life within. This grant will regenerate the building and enable eighteen months of wonderful events for the whole community”
About St. Mags
St Mags is the oldest Victorian church in Torquay, built as part of the Victorian Urban Evangelism Movement. Plans for the building of our church began in 1843, on a rocky platform, gifted by Sir Lawrence Palk, for the sum of £5,000 with the help of a large bequest of £2,000 from a certain Charles Lawson on the condition that “all sittings should be free, and unappropriated for ever”. In those days, in churches it was common to charge “pre-rents”, and this meant that many of the poor

were excluded, and there were very many of those in Upton.
Since then the church has a continuing narrative of serving and supporting and welcoming its people.
The church is a focal point and significant landmark, being clearly visible from both Torquay’s main shopping street in the one direction and from Torre in the opposite. Its 165 foot spire is also easily identified from boats approaching Torquay harbour.

About The National Lottery Heritage Fund
Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.

Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund
Further information
For further information, images and interviews please contact Rev. Sam Leach at St Mags on or 01803 211868

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Torbay Times

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