The ancient Parish Church of St Cuthbert in Darlington, with its eye-catching soaring spire, has held a prominent position at the south end of the town’s market place for over 800 years. It has a remarkable atmosphere, with lofty nave and ornate chancel and sanctuary, and great acoustics, making it a cherished venue for services, weddings and musical events. Historic features include a Saxon Mass dial, a hogsback tomb, medieval effigy and 17th century Parochial Library.
St Cuthbert's seasonal and civic services can attract very large numbers. It has also hosted some very successful orchestral and choral events and drama performances, and is well used by local schools. The Church Centre beside St Cuthbert’s is also a valued community resource, providing useful practical supporting facilities such as toilets and catering for church services and events as well as spaces for meetings, group activities and social gatherings.
The church was selected for Inspired Futures regeneration support in order to progress their plans to find an extended use through engagement and consultation with wider town stakeholders, a
review of the options and feasibility of extended use, models of operation and governance to
support extended use as a centre for heritage and the arts, and a strategy of fundraising and capital campaign planning.
The final report (see below) for St Cuthbert's outlines the progress the church group have made through the Inspired Futures project, acknowledging the key challenges and successes and the type of work undertaken. Overall, as a result of the IF project regeneration support, the church group are now in a stronger position to develop their project, via the outputs achieved as outlined below:
- Visioning workshop report
- Headline options appraisal
- Stakeholder list developed in support of the external consultation and future communications
- Business plan options paper on the justification and feasibility of extended use in the church once improvements are made
- Draft case for support for approaches to funders, volunteers or other stakeholders to support the project
- RIBA Stage 2 plans for the reordering
See also the St Cuthbert’s Darlington end-of-project conference presentation