Published On: Fri, Mar 1st, 2013
St Mary the Virgin Church in Weekley near Kettering

Church-goers’ prayers answered with hi-tech heating

By Lei Chan.

TEMPERATURES may have dropped to below freezing over winter but a 14th century village church near Kettering is hoping to attract a bigger flock with the installation of an innovative low cost heating system. 

The parish team in charge of St Mary the Virgin Church, in Weekley, have introduced energy-efficient heating to encourage its congregation to stay firmly seated in their pews.

Under the scheme, heat is provided in pews during a service with the push of a button instead of relying on overhead heaters on the walls, which have to warm the fabric and air, costing £20 for an hour’s service.

Parish administrator Brian Giles – who is leading the project – said: “Old churches were not designed to be heated and when heat is put into the walls they dry out on the inside and when the heat is removed damp is drawn through the walls, causing damage. Removing this heat cycle will reduce damage to the building.

“On top of these advantages, we have the benefit that the congregation feel warm and are more likely to attend on those cold winter days.”

Phase one – wiring each pew – has been carried out by Mr Giles, a former heating engineer, at a cost of about £250. Each heater is £265 and will cater for four people. There are 32 pews and three general areas the team plan to heat.

So far, the parish team has installed six, including one in the children’s area – thanks to donations from church-goers.

Mr Giles said: “On a cold day with 12 heaters installed, I have an estimate of under £4 for the service.

“The financial savings, together with the ecological savings, are therefore quite considerable.  I am estimating an annual saving on the electricity bill of around £450 a year.”

Parish priest, Rev Giles Godber, told EXTRA: “We had a trial run with one of our elderly members and she really enjoyed sitting in the pews. The temperatures are low so there’s no danger to our members’ legs.

“I have to say, it’s all been down to Brian.”

  • St Mary the Virgin Church in Weekley near Kettering

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