The John Chaplin Open Church Project

Your church for the 21st century
The project aimed at enhancing and updating the facilities of St Mary’s Church is now complete. The project was launched in 2012 in recognition of John Chaplin, a longstanding member of the congregation, who with his friend Victor Bugg loved the Church and took a keen interest in its fabric. They had an enduring wish to see the church improved to enable the church to be used by the wider community in a variety of different ways. Their legacy is an inclusive Church, open to all and a vibrant centre of village life and activities, making a real contribution to the cohesion of the community.
The new developments
A water supply, a kitchenette in the base of the west tower for drinks and light refreshments, an extension with toilets including a unit for disabled people accessed by re-opening of the north door have all been completed. With the font relocated close to the south door there is now an enlarged community space, a designated children's area and a small vestry. An Evensong Festival service was held on the 19th Mrch 2017 at which Bishop Stephen dedicated the new facilities and preached a sermon. 
Wide ranging benefits for the whole community
The project will benefit the whole community of Great and Little Abington in many ways:
  • There are new opportunities for building fellowship and a sense of community after services and other events. The availability of simple refreshments is a focus for relaxed gatherings after formal functions have ended, and toilets will make it easier to stay.
  • The Church is a more attractive and welcoming for christenings, weddings and funerals, to which some members of the congregation have often travelled some distance. The new facilities are a welcome facility and save the need to travel elsewhere; there is also the attractive churchyard too that can be used.
  • There is the scope for new activities such as choirs forming and practising, and some existing activities are making the Church their natural home.
  • The Church can be a centre for contemplation and prayer for all in Gt. and Lt. Abington and Granta Park, helping to bring together two strands of local activity.
  • Those who may have been deterred by lack of toilet facilities, particularly the elderly, families with young children and disabled people, will now find it feasible to attend services and functions at the Church.
  • There will be a new impetus to develop events and activities to include both younger members of the community and those who are elderly or have disabilities.
  • The Church will be able to play a more central role in village life and it will be an appropriate venue for Christian or secular events organised by the villages or Granta Park employees.
  • In an emergency at the village school the church is the designated place of refuge for the children, for whom the new facilities are essential if such refuge were ever needed.
The funding appeal
A committed team raised the funding from:
  • a number of community and social events such as concerts and barbecues - the next one will be on 15th July 2017 when a jazz and barbecue evening will be held
  • local individuals who supported the aims of the project and made generous donations
  • companies and organisations that have a close affinity with the parish such as The Welding Institute of Granta Park
  • the following grant making bodies and charities; The Beatrice Lang Trust; the Garfield Weston Foundation; AllChurches Trust; AmeyCespa Community Fund; the WREN Community Fund and Cambridgeshire Historich Churches Trust who also gave an interest free loan. 
As at April 2017 there is the need to repay the loan, so a further £2,000 is sought to complete the whole financing of the project.  
Your own generous support will make these improvements a reality.
Donation and Gift Aid forms will be available in the churches and can be obtained from: 
Derek Turnidge, Parish Treasurer
23 Cambridge Road, Little Abington, Cambridge CB21 6BL
Tel: 01223 891133   email:
Thank you - we hope to see you