Step into the light

November 22, 2017 / 

How do you make a church welcoming, allow passers-by to see the stunning interior and keep the worst of Guernsey’s weather out? That was the challenge set to CCD at St Peter Port’s Town Church. We have designed glass doors to sit inside the historic porch area – an idea that seems simple, but has in fact turned out to be rather complex.

The brief from the Church Wardens was to provide glazed doors which would fit within the North Porch (the main route of access), and allow passers-by to see into the church, yet keep out the worst of the weather. This would help to give a welcoming image to people who may not normally consider entering the church, especially when the wooden doors are closed.

It was important to keep the historic outer doors to the porch, and allow space for them to be closed; similarly, the Victorian doors to the internal timber porch had to be kept intact and operational. This significantly impacted on the options for the location and operation of the glass doors. The first planned location was inside the inner porch, but serious technical problems were encountered trying to design them so that they could fold back to avoid causing an obstruction. The fire officer also required that the doors had to be openable outwards as well as inwards.

After various alternative approaches were discounted, it was decided that the only possible location was within the ornate carved masonry arch, between the outer and inner porches, but there were many problems. The doors would have to swing both in and out, so would need special heavy duty hinges, which would lock open when required; the doors would have to be sufficiently narrow to allow the wooden inner doors to be folded back inside the glass ones; the glass must not contact the stone arch when the doors are opened, or they risk shattering; the frames must only be fixed into the mortar joints between the arch stones, not into the stones themselves; the glass doors have to be perfectly sized and shaped to match the arch, but not catch on each other or the frames as they open and close.

A heavy oak frame was designed by CCD and manufactured by Paul’s Joinery and is fixed into the masonry joints on either side, supporting the hinges for the glass doors. The stainless hinges are robust enough to support the considerable weight, and fold back as required. The glass was expertly shaped and fitted by Stainless Steel Fabrications Ltd, who also fitted the doors and hinges, and made the handles.

We are delighted with this elegant modern intervention to the historic fabric of the Church.