New Top for Straw Communion Table

Communion Table TopNow that our Straw Bale Communion Table is being given official permission by the Archdeacon of Lambeth, we need a more decent top for it, rather than the old bit of MDF we had knocking around the church basement!  So here’s the new top, with varnish drying in what was earlier a sunny window!

I wanted to use the project to experiment with some ideas:  the wood is ordinary osb, varnished.  I had an idea that it would complement the straw, and that in due course, we might want to use it for flooring in the hall.  It looks nice, but there are still some questions to be resolved about durability.

Then I thought I would make my own clay to fill the routed cross.  Since we are having the garden dug up for a new water main, there was plenty to hand.  The experience convinced me to buy ready-made clay plaster when the time comes.  There are lots of little stones in the average garden, and it’s jolly hard to get it to a workable consistency.

And then it cracked – which of course, is now part of the rustic design!

Church & Community Fund pledge £15,000!

Church & Community FundOur first bid for funding has been successful. The Church of England’s Church and Community Fund has awarded us £15,000. We bid on the basis that the process of self-building will increase community cohesion and enhance the church’s mission. We need to spend the allocation within two years. Thank you CCF – we’re making a good start!

Find out more about the Church & Community Fund here.

How to be a Bale-Builder

How to be a Bale-Builder

Becoming a Bale-Builder for Holy Trinity’s Neighbourhood Hub couldn’t be simpler. The cost of a delivered bale of straw is about £4.00 and to cover the total cost of our building we need the equivalent of about 95,000 of them!

To be a Bale-Builder, just decide how many bales you can contribute – it may be 3, 10, 30, 100, or even 1000. You can decide on any number. Multiply that number by 4, and that will be your contribution in £s.

Next, actually give the money. If it is a small amount you could donate by text. Otherwise, our preferred method is a direct bank transfer: details are here. If you want to give by card, you can do that through our Bmycharity page – though we have to pay a small commission for that.

Finally, find two other people you can persuade to also support the project.  You might even get them to find another two people each!  It might help if you give them one of our leaflets, which you can download here.

Once we’ve got most of our target fund of £380,000 we can start building.  At that point you’ll be able to actually join us on site, get training, and be a hands-on bale-builder!

Bale-Building Leaflet Published

leaflet-webOur new Bale-Building leaflet is now published and is beginning to be actively distributed. This tells you how you can support the building of Holy Trinity’s Tulse Hill Neighbourhood Hub.

The leaflet gives you background on the context, the commitment of Holy Trinity over the last 150 years, the size and viability of our amazing vision, and why community building with straw will make such a huge difference to so many people.

The principle of being a Bale-Builder is that you give something and find two other people to do the same.  You can download the leaflet here.

Archbishop becomes Patron!

Archbishop of YorkWe’re delighted to announce that the Archbishop of York, Rt Revd John Sentamu is to be Patron of our Tulse Hill Neighbourhood Hub. John was Vicar here in Tulse Hill for many years; he is warmly remembered and keeps in touch with a number of people. Several years before that he studied in Cambridge, where our current Vicar, Richard stayed with him overnight before an undergraduate interview.

Archbishop John  led and saw through the renovation of Holy Trinity’s main church building in three phases during the 1980-90s. He also initiated Phase 4, of which our current project will be the fulfillment. At that time, it was another Archbishop of York, Rt Revd Stuart Blanch who was President of the Appeal. Lord Blanch had been a former choir boy here at Holy Trinity.

Archbishop John says, “I am very pleased to let you know that having prayed and fasted about this project, I am very happy to accept your kind invitation.”

Now Give By Text – Free!

text-givingYou can now help build our neighbourhood hub commission-free when you give by text. This means we get 100% – yes 100% – of your gift, as well as 100% of the Gift Aid bonus, if you pay UK income tax.

It couldn’t be easier.

Simply text:   thsb14 £20 to 70070.

(Substitute your own donation, eg £5, £50, £500)

Your gift will be forwarded to our bank account.

You will also receive a reply text asking whether you would like to Gift Aid the amount. Please do so, if you are eligible!

If you pay your phone by direct debit monthly, your gift will be added to your bill – so be aware that your monthly phone bill may seem unusually large!

If you are on pay-as-you-go, please make sure there is enough credit on your phone card for your gift.

“thsb” stands for “Tulse Hill Straw Bales” and 14 indicates that we want to raise most of our £380,000 in 2014


This free service is provided by Vodafone in partnership with JustGiving.

New Artwork by Priscilla

site-smallerAt the end of January we laid out barrier fencing to show on site where the Hub will go. We were thrilled that our drawings on paper actually fitted where we thought they would on the ground! Over the following weeks the storms blew everything down, which was amazing.  I thought the holes in barrier fencing would prevent that.  Last week Priscilla Watkins, our Project Artist did this painting of the site, looking towards the church from the South West.  The foreground section with trees will be our toilet block.  Through the left hand gap between the trees you can see where our kitchen is planned. Somewhere at the far end will be our Hub entrance. The two yellow lines mark the walls of our strip of Upper Rooms in the roof space.  Click here to see a photo of the site from the other end.

Full Steam Ahead

Following the visit of the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) on 28 January, our straw bale project is moving full steam ahead!

The DAC spent a morning with Richard, Barbara Jones from Straw Works, a representative from English Heritage and members of the project team. After inspecting the site and asking lots of questions, Stephen Craven of the DAC wrote: ‘The Committee as a whole strongly supports the intention of the project, and commends the parish for taking environmental sustainability seriously.’

We took a moment to celebrate and then signed the contract with Barbara, who is now drawing up designs for the community hall and arranging for all the different surveys to take place.

The next important step is to plan our fundraising strategy. Hilary and Richard are working together on this, thinking of different ways to involve people from the community in the project. Would you like to become a bale builder? If you’re interested, ask Richard for a leaflet. If you have any other fundraising ideas just get in touch!

Plans On Site

view from porch

Yesterday, Hendy and Richard laid out the plans for our building in mesh barrier fencing on site. This was done ahead of our site visit with the Diocesan Advisory Committee and others on Tuesday.

We’re glad to say that it all fits on the ground exactly as our drawings say it should!  Not a bad start for amateurs!

The yellow lines – in case you were wondering – mark where our “Upper Rooms” will fir in the roof space, as well as the internal wall of the toilet block.

Once the DAC give us a positive indication of openness to the scheme, we’ll be commissioning the surveys, professional design and drawings.

For some other views click below:

view from kitchen

view from toilets

view along the centre.


One step closer…

The Straw Bale Project Team had its second meeting last night and there was a real sense of making progress.

The Diocesan Advisory Committee (the group that will give us the go-ahead on the project) have confirmed their visit on 28 January, so we were keen to get everything ready for them.

Over the next few weeks we will be working on our statement of significance (a document that outlines the historic significance of the church building) and the statement of need (a document that shows how the proposal will help us to meet our needs).

We will also continue to develop our fundraising strategy (thank you Hilary!) and our business plan (thank you Jim and Aileen!)

We’re still looking for a patron for this project. We heard back last week from the Prince of Wales, who said that unfortunately he couldn’t take this role. The letter said, ‘His Royal Highness much appreciated your thoughtful invitation and was interested to hear about the project. He has asked me to send you his best wishes.’

The next project team meeting is scheduled for 10 February.

We’ll let you know how the DAC visit goes.

Church & Community Building with Straw Bales in Tulse Hill