A newly built church hall, which has been funded largely by the community, is opening its doors for the first time this week.
The Glebe Hall at All Saints Church in Crawley Down is the result of more than 15 years hard work.
The original idea was to build a hall on land next to the churchyard but five years ago it was suggested it be sold for redevelopment to fund a hall adjoining the church. The sale raised £600,000, half of which went to All Saints, and work began in earnest three years ago to raise the remaining £250,000 needed.
Rev John Hale said: “We were determined to get it right. We knew if we were going to ask for £250,000 we had to get it right.
“We didn’t do fundraising events; we communicated to people the vision. That’s the best way to fundraise.”
The result is a purpose built hall with a kitchen, toilets, a small upstairs room and direct access to the Victorian church building. Five new homes have since been built on the land they sold.
Brian Apps, who led on fundraising, said: “When we had the official opening with the bishop, people coming in for the first time were gobsmacked saying it’s like a TARDIS - bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside.
“The local community has been very generous. People who have previously worshipped at the church and have moved away have donated as well.”
People will be able to hire it out and it will be used for church activities including the bereavement and carers’ support groups, mums and toddler group, brownies, guides and possibly a new youth group.