To the east of the Abbey stands a small church building, now de-consecrated, dedicated to St Andrew. Why are these two churches so close together? The answer lies back in the eleventh century when King Edward the Confessor gave lands, which had formally belonged to Pershore, to endow his cherished foundation at Westminster. St Andrews was built to serve the tenants of the Abbot of Westminster who had a considerable estate in the West Midlands. Westminster continued to own land and property in the south part of Pershore until the nineteenth century when the Church Commissioners took over ownership. Westminster is still involved in the appointment of vicars of Pershore today.
Its architecture is both complicated and intriguing. The oldest parts of the existing fabric date back to 1170-90 with further rebuilding taking place in the fourteenth century and in the late 1800’s further re-modelling and additions were made.
St Andrews has a particularly fine peal of bells cast in 1715 which has recently been augmented to eight. Being much lighter than the Abbey bells they are extensively used for training, which is an important enterprise within the community.
Services of worship continued until 1943, and in 1972 the church was remodelled in order to become the Parish Centre, although a fire in 1993 interrupted for a short period forty years of considerable community engagement. Pershore Abbey pays a yearly rent to the Diocese of “One Pound of Pershore Plums” handed over each year during the annual Plum Festival.
For over forty years St Andrews has used its resources in order to respond to and challenge the issues facing its particular neighbourhood and community. Working alongside a wide range of individuals, groups and organisations, to develop initiatives and projects that underpin, sustain and offer support.
Since the seventies the requirement of pastoral care has changed dramatically. The explosion of technology both in reach and power and the globalisation of the world’s problems means that what used to be local problems solved reasonably easily with a bit of money and a great deal of time is not the case anymore. Place, economics, loneliness, mental health, lack of extended family support, immigration, drugs and violence have all taken its toll. Nowadays not everything can be fixed by pastoral care but much can – especially with a highly regarded, notably committed vicar and her team. It is important to note that somewhere such as Pershore where there is a significantly aging population and the setting more rural than urban many other factors also come into play.
St Andrews has provided support and help over its lifetime as a Parish Centre. But it has also given positive and uplifting support for the town in a unique and beautiful setting, which is both historical and practical.
The challenge for St Andrews, simply put, is developing this incredible resource to respond to the 21st century whilst protecting and enhancing an historic listed building.
In many ways St Andrews and the Abbey act as one building divided by a road. The Abbey could not achieve its aims of wider community outreach without
St Andrews and St Andrews could not benefit the community without the Abbey.
Already there are many activities taking place providing support from baby and toddler groups to senior lunches, Foodbanks through to variety of community meeting spaces and much, much more, St Andrews serves its community from cradle to grave. As the Abbey grows and develops its plans, for the wider community, visitor engagement and public and private partnerships it is very important to have spaces that work, have complete accessibility and that pay for themselves.
It is vitally important to protect, renovate, redevelop where necessary and in today’s world and re-imagine the spaces to
This means, floors, staircases, kitchens, storage, windows, roof, security. A capital enterprise that will create a building internally that answers to the daily needs of a varied community going forward.