The church's Quinquennial Inspection report in 2009 highlighted a major problem with the 19th century timber pew platforms in the nave and aisles, which were infested with worm and beetle, and were collapsing. Following further investigation of the nave pew platforms in February 2010, the Diocesan appointed architect, concluded that the pew platforms were in a dangerous condition and required immediate attention. Three options were suggested, one of which was to remove, and dispose of, the pews, remove the pew platform structures and install a lime concrete floor with a stone finish.
Following an interregnum, discussions resumed in April 2012 to remove the pews, replace the floor, install under floor heating and create a flexible space for the church and community (this became Phase 1 of the project). The kitchen, toilets and church room which had all been created in the 1960s by partitioning the west end of the North and South aisles of the church, also needed new floors and upgrading (this became Phase 2).
Phase 1 Work (2015-2016)
After a lengthy planning and fundraising stage, the contract for the work was finally signed in April 2015 and the church was packed up ready for the move. The last Sunday in church was May 10th. The new venues for the church services were widely publicised and the Toddler group moved temporarily to the Village Hall. It was hoped the work would take six months and the congregation would be back in early November.
The work progressed well and the archaeological work, including the relocation of the brass floor memorials from the nave and aisle to the Lady Chapel, was completed on time. There were no surprises found in the excavations. Most of the pews removed were sold and raised £2480 for the project. To raise further funds, individuals were encouraged to sponsor a stone tile. A leaflet detailing the fifty sponsors is available in church.
In early October, a time capsule was buried underneath the new floor. The screed was completed and the under floor heating pipework installed. The contractor began laying the stone floor and the church was opened for a second time for members of the congregation and community to view the work.
Due to delays in the work, several completion dates were passed and, disappointingly, the 2015 Christmas services had to be rearranged. The Celebration Service planned on the return was rescheduled for 31st January and the Bishop of Rochester invited to preside.
The project cost a total of £347,488.00 and thanks to a substantial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, along with generous grants from the Friends of Kent Churches, the Garfield Weston Foundation, Marshall’s Charity, the Wolfson Foundation, All Churches Trust Ltd and the Beatrice Laing Trust we now have a warm, flexible space for worship and community events. Locally, A C Goatham Ltd, Residential Marine Ltd, Hoo Parish Council, the Brice Trust, Farleigh Coaches and the Vidgeon Legacy also generously supported the works along with individuals who bought a pew, sponsored a tile, organised fund raising events and made donations that enabled the project to be fully funded.