St Michael Without is a Grade II* gothic revival church consecrated in 1837 and built on the site of several earlier churches dating back to the 12th Century. The church had undergone a complete re-ordering in 1904; losing its box pews, galleries and three-storey pulpit. One hundred years on the building required re-ordering to cater for modern worship.
The brief was to provide a church with a modern and welcoming atmosphere and to allow equal access for all. This was a particular challenge as the church access from all points was stepped. The solution was both radical and modern but sympathetic with the historic fabric. The Broad Street entrance was remodelled by lowering the entrance lobby some 900mm to street level to give direct wheelchair access into the body of the church. A new platform lift serves the basement offices and counselling rooms and a stair lift provides access onto the gallery.
Pews were removed from the nave and replaced with stackable seats which give flexibility for various liturgical arrangements as well as community uses such as the film and literary festivals. The altar, font and lectern have been moved to central locations in the ‘arena’ seating arrangement.
A new gallery was inserted at the west end of the church which now provides much needed overflow space and access to a new church office. A small café at ground floor level provides a source of income as well as meeting space after services.