GRAND CHAPEL PLAN TAKES SHAPE

An ambitious plan for redevelopment of the Methodist Chapel got its first public showing in the parish hall this week, promising not only to restore the old shell but to turn the interiors into a fine-looking set of facilities including 80-seat auditorium, cafe space, play area and worship rooms.

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The church has been moving ahead faster than most of us realised. Our last reports on the situation said only the mending work was on the immediate agenda, with final thoughts on the redevelopment still to come. But the plans unveiled this week go into some detail on the full conversion idea. They were drawn up by professional architect Nick Dean, who lives in Horrabridge and has a practice based in Crapstone.

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They were apparently favourably received by most of the 50 or so visitors who called to take a look this week but written submissions were and still are invited. David Dodd, one of the Tavistock committee driving the project, said: “By the way, we need support, not just complaints.”

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It is not possible to reproduce the plans here and they are not yet available online but the summary is:

Frontage to remain as is, including current gateways and the distinctive windows – unusually ornate for a Methodist chapel;

Bottom gate to become new main entrance, with covered corridor from it to doors – probably the most controversial element.

A few pews to be kept in the old church room but most to be replaced with moveable chairs, for flexibility in use.

One new outbuilding to be built in South View corner. Others to be refitted for catering and so on.

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Local Methodist organisers Graham Skedgell, left, and David Dodd, right, with their community worker in Horrabridge, Ali Mansfield

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The plans and the public responses will now be submitted to the Methodists’ national properties team, who have delegated powers to approve changes to their listed buildings, and might want to discuss some things before they do. After that, Dartmoor NPA will have a say on the exterior changes. The work will wait until it can all go ahead. It has been decided that the roof work is not so urgent it is worth having the builders in twice, with some inevitable disruption for the neighbours.

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Local circuit treasurer Graham Skedgell said it was too early to talk about costs but at one point a ball-park figure of £250,000 was mentioned and it is hard to see it being less. There may be grants available but the church is willing to put up enough to get the work going.

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Asked what had changed since the chapel closed, about 12 years ago, one of the village hall team said: “Everything changes all the time. Sometimes a tree dies but a seed falls into the ground. We have faith that this seed is ready to mature.”

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Over the past three years, a new Methodist fieldworker for the village, Ali Mansfield, has built a network of talk and worship groups on top of the mixed congregation of Methodists and Anglicans who currently share St John’s Church. Initially, St John’s is likely to carry on as the main venue for traditional Sunday services but the less formal Friday worship group Ignite will use the chapel when it is open again and other weekday events, both Christian and secular, are envisaged.

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Looks like being a magnificent asset to the village?


WHAT’S ON

Local musical couple Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman are on tour, promoting a new album, On Reflection, which revisits some of their best work over the past 25 years. Dates include Exeter Phoenix Feb 27, St Austell Arts Feb 28 and Calstock Arts Feb 29 and March 1.

The album includes a popular recent song inspired by walks on Plasterdown – The Cows of Mystery. Hear it HERE

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Devonshire Association has a talk on ideas for Rewilding Dartmoor at the Tavistock Parish Centre, next to Bedford Hotel, from 7.30 pm this Friday (Feb 21).

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Also Friday Feb 21, Calstock Arts have a nice musical cabaret act, The Schmoozenbergs. Sample them HERE

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Last call for bookings for an apple pruning workshop at Lydford Gorge, 10.30-12.30 Saturday (Feb 22). Call National Trust office on 01822 820320.

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Sat Feb 22, Exeter Northcott has The Jive Aces, who went down well on Britain’s Got Talent. Their showreel is HERE

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Sun Feb 23, Pyle’s Auctions have one of their big farm mongery sales, including stone troughs, old tools and machinery, and so on, at The Bridge Rooms, Hatherleigh.

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Tues Feb 25, at Dartmoor National Park HQ, Bovey, government inspectors open an inquiry into the legality of development proposals for the caravan park at Magpie Bridge.

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Barnstaple is working towards a fringe theatre festival in June and taking bookings from acts. Details HERE

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Diary date: Wednesday March 4, from 9 pm, has been fixed for the opening on ITV of new comedy drama serial The Trouble With Maggie Cole, starring Dawn French and locations in Noss Mayo and Horrabridge. When filming took place here last year, it was provisionally titled Glass Houses.

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CLASSY CURRY TIP

Daily Telegraph recently gave a good write-up to the Karma restaurant, housed in the “distinctly unprepossessing” Great Western Hotel, near Exeter St Davids. Its angle is Manchurian cuisine, which blends Indian and Chinese influences. Dinner for two about £50, excluding drinks and service.

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AND EXPENSIVE DRINK TIP

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Most expensive and profitable drink in the world, according to The Economist, is a Chinese brew called Moutai, made from a mash of beans and soy sauce to whisky strength, in a small region which has exclusive rights to the name. The top maker, Kweichow Moutai, currently sells all the bottles it can produce of a brand called Flying Fairy at about $400 each. You can get a less-known brand for £100 a bottle. Back in the 1980s, the stuff sold locally for a dollar a bottle.

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allfornow …

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Editor of The Horrabridge Times.

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