Barton hall set to be sold to benefit church

Oxford Mail: The Rev Maggie Thorne in the old building. Picture: OX67684 David Fleming Buy this photo The Rev Maggie Thorne in the old building. Picture: OX67684 David Fleming

A CHURCH hall that has served an estate for 50 years will be put up for sale after it closes later this month.

The 1960s St Mary’s Church hall in Barton was said to be falling into disrepair after an Oxford Diocese survey in 2012.

It would have cost more than £500,000 to repair, so parishioners set about adapting the church rather than fixing the hall.

The Rev Maggie Thorne said: “We agreed we would have to close it down and draw a line under it. It is just past its sell-by-date.

“There were so many things that really needed to be done that we thought, actually, we cannot afford to do this.”

Since then the church has adapted the main building by replacing the fixed pews with 100 removable seats.

Mrs Thorne said they planned to use cash from the sale of the site to fund improvements to the church – including new toilets and a kitchen.

She said: “We are hoping to sell the land. It is as simple as that.

“It may go to a private developer, it may go to someone who has got a specialist interest.”

She declined to give any details about plans or how much the building could sell for, but said the sale would be debated and agreed by the church committee.

Van Coulter, Oxford city councillor for Barton and Sandhills, said the site could be a good place for new homes.

He said: “It just depends on who buys it. I would just want to make sure whatever replaced it was suitable for its location.”

On Sunday, June 15, the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev John Pritchard, will “symbolically” close the hall door before a farewell party.

Church warden George Knight said: “We will be celebrating the many long years that the hall has served us and will recall all those precious memories that it holds.”

Mrs Thorne added: “It has had a massive contribution to life in Barton. We have had the Brownies and the Guides. The Isis Dance Academy has been there forever – and church functions too. It has been a good friend to the church and the community.”

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