A FORMER church in Bristol will reopen as a museum and events venue after it was severely damaged by a fire in 2016.
St Michael on the Mount Without, a 200-year-old church, has been acquired by Ian Johnson, an entrepreneur, with the aim of turning the main body of the church into an events and community space. The museum is to be located in the crypt.
Mr Johnson said that he was delighted that the diocese of Bristol had allowed him to redevelop the former church. He said on Thursday of last week: “I’m personally glad to give one of Bristol’s most historical buildings a future, especially one not dependent on residential development.
“To be able to open up a building like this for a variety of event uses is also an exciting process, and we hope to deliver a wide variety of event experiences and opportunities for Bristol residents and the local community.”
St Michael’s, on St Michael's Hill, closed in 1999 owing to decreasing congregations. It lay empty until the fire in 2016.
The church has a 15th-century tower, and was redesigned and reconstructed in the 19th century. It was further modified after it was damaged by bombing during the Second World War.
“It will be an interesting process, piecing together the detailed history of the area, to present an engaging museum experience,” Mr Johnson said. “The important first step to the building is to create a safe usage, reinstate the roof, and create a building with a long-standing future. We aim to make this into something the area, and local residents, can be proud of in the next two years.”
The diocesan secretary, Oliver Home, said: “After so many attempts to find a sustainable future for the building, the planned use will enable the former church to remain at the heart of the life of the local community and be conserved for years to come,” he said.
Ross Simmonds, of Historic England South West, said: “The building is an iconic feature on Bristol’s skyline, and much loved, but, sadly, it’s been on our Heritage at Risk register for a number of years.
“Securing the building for the community to use and enjoy has been a priority for our local team, and we’re pleased that’s now one step closer.”
In January, it was announced that another church in Bristol, St Nicholas’s, in the city centre, closed for 65 years, is to reopen in the autumn as a “resourcing church”, seeking to reach out to young people in the city (News, 26 January).
Over the next six years, £3.8 million is to be spent on refurbishment and funding for its work. It will be led by the Revd Toby Flint, an Assistant Curate at Holy Trinity, Brompton, in London.