Consultation at St Mary the Virgin Church, Middleton-in-Teesdale, County Durham

19 Jan 2023

St Mary’s church, a Grade II Listed building in Middleton-in-Teesdale, has been closed for worship since 2020, following the discovery of extensive dry rot in the nave and chancel and the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Recognising the small and declining size of the congregation and PCC, and the imminent retirement of the incumbent and church warden, the PCC had formally resolved that they could no longer manage the building and proposed to begin the formal closure process. With the risk of permanent closure, funding was received from the Teesdale Area Action Partnership and local ward councillors, to help the PCC to consider options for developing a more sustainable future for St Mary’s.

In 2022, CCT’s Regeneration Team were appointed to support the PCC and to help them to develop ideas for the future use and sustainability of the church. Informed by an analysis of the church building, parish and wider community, and local community and stakeholder engagement, CCT identified and appraised four potential options, recommending a preferred option of ‘Festival Use combined with a co-use’, and providing an Action Plan for delivery. It was clear that the success of this option would be dependent on the PCC establishing a more sustainable form of governance for St Mary’s, and CCT recommended that they should work with the newly established Friends of St Mary’s (FOSM) group, identified through the consultation.

The PCC formally resolved to pursue this option. Since the commission, FOSM have successfully mobilised themselves as a group and have organised a number of successful fundraising events, helping to re-engage the wider community with St Mary’s. The PCC and FOSM are now at the business planning stage and CCT have recently been approached to support this process. For further information, please visit CCT’s Options Appraisal and Development Report