A CHURCH in the heart of Knutsford reopened its doors on Sunday after the first phase of its renovation was completed.

The congregation at St John's enjoyed their first Sunday service in the building for nearly two years on November 2.

And the renewed building will host Knutsford town’s service of remembrance this Sunday, November 9.

The church members, with architects Graham Holland Associates, set out to return the building to its Georgian origins by removing the Victorian pews, installing a timber floor and platform, redecorating and relighting.

Existing stained glass windows have been relocated to the Church Hill elevation and lit up at night, while the other windows have been altered to adopt the traditional Georgian pattern of clear glazing.

The first phase of the £540,000 works have been almost exclusively funded by the regular churchgoing families of St John’s.

Fundraising for a second phase comprising external cleaning and repair continues.

Rev Nigel Atkinson said: ‘The aim of the project has been to secure the witness to the good news of Jesus Christ through revitalising the building that past generations have left to us.

"The mission of the church is to re-present that good news to each new generation, and I’m confident the new building will encourage that to happen."

John Lee, churchwarden, added: "It is thrilling to see the space returned to its former clarity - Georgian in feel, and with an attractive contemporary brightness. We are all very excited to open our doors again after such a long planning and construction period.

"After school clubs, slimming clubs, choirs and social events already use the building; we hope many more in the town will choose to use the new facility we now have."

Graham Holland, the architect for the works, said: "Following the brief from the church and carefully considering the building, our intention was to give space and light to the interior, sadly diminished by Victorian and modern alterations.

"We hope the intention has been fulfilled in producing a flexible and brilliantly lit space. A significant factor in achieving this has been the clear glazing of the windows, restoring and relocating the stained glass to the west end, where this really shines."

The building has been designed to be of use to the wider community, with flexible seating arrangements, and a high quality audio visual facility.

Anyone interested in hiring the building should contact Church Manager Helen Kimber in the church office.