I have blogged previously about my home town of Malmesbury in Wiltshire, it is a small place with a large Abbey church at its centre. At one time it had the tallest spire in the UK (a title now taken by Salisbury Cathedral), but following its collapse it had a slightly chequered career (not helped by Henry the Eighth) until it became the parish church thanks to the generosity of William Stump, a local merchant.
It has had a fairly ‘normal’ history since then being used as a the local C of E church with a fairly active congregation. However for the past 3 years it has seen a significant change in February when for a few days in an attempt to attract younger people – it becomes a skate park!
Now as far as my 87 year old mother is concerned this is not an acceptable use for a church – she becomes ‘angry of Malmesbury’ when the subject comes up in conversation. I accept that the older generation can have issue with this type of thing, but this week I had my first opportunity to actually see the Abbey converted to its skate use. I had a vision of big ramps and scaffolding everywhere, however the truth was somewhat ‘underwhelming’ if I am honest!
The conversion is fairly low key which got me thinking whether or not I feel this is a good idea. It has created national interest in the town and its church, which has to be good. It is also getting people into a building that they would normally go nowhere near – another good thing.
Overall I think all organisations have to change with the times – whether they are religious organisations or other public bodies is irrelevant – I think the Abbey should be congratulated for ‘pushing the envelope’.