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Minster Abbey vicar, the Rev Tim Hall, has spoken out after concerns were raised about changes at the Sheppey church

By Emma Grove

A vicar has reassured residents that changes to Minster Abbey are in the best interests of the church and community.

The Rev Tim Hall was speaking after concerns were raised about work at the abbey.

Pews have been removed and there are plans to open up part of the north wall to create a link between the building and the church hall. A glass screen to link the two will replace an existing wooden door.

The Rev Tim Hall hopes to reopen the main entrance to Minster Abbey and stop people using this porch
The Rev Tim Hall hopes to reopen the main entrance to Minster Abbey and stop people using this porch

Virginia Hanley, of Kent Avenue, Minster, has lots of family connections with the 7th century abbey and said she is really worried about the changes and fears it could lead to things happening at other important landmarks on the Island.

She thinks historic buildings should be better protected by planning laws – although there is permission in place for the abbey changes.

The 61-year-old said: “I’m horrified and really worried about it.

“If they can do it to the abbey, they can do it to places like Harty.”

But Mr Hall says he has had the opposite reaction from many people, some of whom were not sure initially but have praised what is going on when they have had a look.

He said: “We have taken some of the front pews out because we do a lot of weddings and funerals and they were just in the way.

“They were also on top of some historic brasses which can now be seen and appreciated.

“People have come in and said it’s a beautiful space.”

Mr Hall said people go into the church via the porch, but the proper door is actually beneath the bell tower, to the left of the lychgate.

He wants to reinstate this original entrance so people see the whole length of the church when they go in, something he describes as a magnificent sight.

One of the next things is to raise money for a modern heating system, as the existing one has broken down a number of times in the past few weeks.

Mr Hall said: “An awful lot of that is not changing a historic building – it’s putting it back to where it should be and where it was originally.”

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