Vestry@50 – The Thomas Field Hall

Vestry@50 Appeal

Just over 50 years ago the Vicar, Churchwardens and people of this parish had a vision and took the bold step of building a separate extension on the north side of our wonderful church, to provide a vestry, meeting room, kitchen and toilet and joining it to the main building with an Ambulatory. The good news is that it is still standing and serving a purpose—but to a limited extent! Its facilities are now well below modern standards, and, most of all, it is just not big enough for our purposes of developing the church as a community building as well as a place of worship. Now, 50 years on, the Vicar and Churchwardens and the Parochial Church Council have a new vision to upgrade, modernise and enlarge the extension.

That vision is now close to becoming reality…

Latest Project Updates:

Click on the red headings to see more.

  • Thomas Field Hall: Glazing Spectacular
    The glazing to the Ambulatory has been beautifully detailed. The front door frame is behind the glass so that it is almost invisible. Our architect gave a lot of time and thought to achieve this detail and it is exquisitely minimal.  The glass canopy is held elegantly over the door by a couple of stainless …
  • Thomas Field Hall: The Beginning of the Endgame
    This week we can say that we’re looking at the beginning of the endgame. The windows and doors have arrived on site and are being fitted. Another casualty of Covid, the company supplying them is not able to fit them for some time and we cannot wait. Independent installers have been instructed by the builders …
  • Thomas Field Hall: Progress Inside
    This week there was progress inside. The walls and roof of the Hall internally were lined out in plasterboard fixed onto battens on the 75 mm of insulation which will keep the spaces warm.  Next week the plaster skim will be applied and the inside will look almost finished.
  • Thomas Field Hall: Raising the Roof
    Great progress this week:  if not exactly raising the roof then at least pretty much finishing the roof. The slates have been fixed on the roof and the building is starting to look a bit more finished from the outside.
  • Thomas Field Hall: Soon to be Weather Tight
    Despite some rather wet weather recently our builders are making reasonable progress and we will soon be weather tight.  The heating installation, along with first fix electrical work is complete and screeding was completed on Wednesday afternoon.  Roof tiling was due to start yesterday and windows are due to be fitted on 12 November. 

For a collection of all updates on the Thomas Field Hall, click here.

The Project So Far, in Pictures

  • Photo of ground breaking for the Thomas Field Hall
  • Photo of archaeological excavation work in churchyard
  • Photo of Building Works
  • Photo of Building Works
  • Photo of building works of Thomas Field Hall
  • Photo of building works of Thomas Field Hall
  • Photo of building works of Thomas Field Hall
  • Photo of Building Works
  • Photo of Building Works
  • Photo of Building Works
  • Photo of Building Works
  • Photo of Building Works
  • Photo of Building Works
  • Photo of Building Works
  • Photo of building works
  • Photo of roof slates
  • Photo of Building Works
  • Photo of Building Works
  • Photo of Building Works
  • Photo of Building Works
  • Photo of Building Works
  • Photo of building works
  • Photo of building works
  • Photo of building works
  • Photo of building works
  • Photo of building works
  • Photo of building works
  • Photo of building works
  • Photo of building works

The slideshow will play automatically. You can pause it and scroll forwards or backwards through the pictures.

June 2020 Project Update:

At long last, after weeks of delay and frustration, the latest caused by the spread of the coronavirus infection, our builders started the building works on Monday, 8th June. Obviously they cannot guarantee that there will not be delays either within their workforce or externally with suppliers and subcontractors, and if these happen then we will deal with them as best we can. However, they have done their best to confirm orders and set up deliveries and have worked up a programme.

If all goes well the building should be finished early in 2021. The construction work will be carried out during the summer months, which should allow ample daylight and hopefully good weather, and as the days draw in the finishing works will be mostly internal and not affected by shortening daylight hours, giving the builders the best conditions in which to work. There will be problems – there always are – but we hope that overall the project will be completed as efficiently as possible.

April 2020 Project Update:

You will not be surprised to read that the building work for the Thomas Field Hall is a casualty of the Covid 19 crisis.  The Diocese is only allowing essential works to continue, so we have to wait until sanctions are lifted and work is permitted to start.  We hope that the fine weather will continue for several weeks to come so that we will be able to take advantage of it.

March 2020 Project Update:

Photo of ground breaking for the Thomas Field Hall

Ground Broken for Thomas Field Hall

On the morning of Monday 2 March 2020, ground was broken in Little Gaddesden churchyard at the start of works to build the Thomas Field Hall.

The first cut in the soil was made by the vicar, the Revd John Russell, seen here accompanied by two of the building contractors, the site archaeologist, and churchwarden Barbara Sheard, who originated the design of the new hall. They are gathered round the headstone of Thomas Field, after whom the hall is to be named.

January 2020 Project Update:

We have been working hard over the past 18 months since our first Appeal leaflet was produced (see below) and we have made great progress. This is where we are now:

We have achieved:

  • Full Planning Approval and Listed Building Consent to the detailed design.
  • A complete set of architect’s detailed drawings (see below for a few examples) and Specification.
  • Selecting a Building Contractor and agreeing a price.
  • Selecting a specialist Glazing Sub-Contractor.
  • Signing Contracts with the Building Contractor and Glazing Sub Contractor.
  • A date for starting the building works and a programme for carrying them out.
  • Architectural supervision of the construction of the building.
  • An Archaeological survey team ready to start.
  • A Faculty application to the Diocese being processed.
  • Funding for the works 95% achieved – see separate Financial Update below.

All of which means that in March 2020 we will start building Phase 1 of The Thomas Field Hall for the use of the whole village community and more. This is a tremendous achievement and we would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the Appeal so far and encourage any other and further donations to reach our final total to complete the entire project.

Barbara Sheard, Michael Carver

Example Drawings

Thomas Field Hall - Computer image of ambulatory door
Thomas Field Hall and Ambulatory – Computer image courtesy of Tempietto Architects
Thomas Field Hall - West Elevation and South Elevation/Section
Thomas Field Hall, West Elevation and South Elevation/Section – Courtesy of Tempietto Architects
Thomas Field Hall - East and North Elevations
Thomas Field Hall, East and North Elevations – Courtesy of Tempietto Architects
Thomas Field Hall - Longitudinal section
Thomas Field Hall, Longitudinal section – Courtesy of Tempietto Architects
Thomas Field Hall - Transverse section
Thomas Field Hall, Transverse section – Courtesy of Tempietto Architects

October 2020 Financial Update:

We have now raised £500,000 so far from a variety of sources including very many generous donations from people in the village and well-wishers.  Of this figure, £165,000 has been contributed from Church reserve funds and £35,000 from grants.  To fulfil our ambitions and complete the project delivering a first-class hall with modern and easily maintainable facilities we need to raise a further £15,000.

January 2020 Financial Update:

In April 2018 we commenced raising monies for the above project with the intention of raising £250,000 and using £150,000 or our current reserves.

This target was based on initial estimates supplied to us by our appointed architect.

We had raised 90% of the monies by the summer of 2019, and then made the decision to scale back the fund raising activities until we had firm quotations from a number of building companies. Unfortunately when the quotations were received they were all considerably higher than had been initially forecast. After selecting the building company, based on price, quality and experience of undertaking similar projects we then met with the owner and managed to achieve a number of savings.

We now have over 85% of our final costs based on firm quotations, and the monies we require to complete the whole project including upgraded church heating and all the necessary fixtures and fittings is £635,000 including VAT.

It was decided therefore, to divide the project into Phase 1 and Phase 2.

Phase 1 includes all building work, professional fees, PCC costs and contingency costs appertaining thereto. The cost to complete this phase is £553,000 including VAT.

Phase 2 includes the church heating, fitting out costs, CCTV costs and contingency costs appertaining thereto. The cost to complete this phase is £82,000 including VAT.

Since learning of the increased costs we have been contacting potential donors again and starting new Grant applications.

The current financial position is extremely encouraging. We have raised £247,000 including firm pledges and two grants. Therefore including our reserves of £150,000 our total now stands at £397,000. However you will note the above targets include VAT. As Treasurer I am confident we will recover almost all of our VAT back through the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme amounting to £97,000.

That means we have, in effect, raised £494,000 (£397,000 + £97,000).

The remaining target to complete Phase 1 is therefore £59,000. However I am delighted to report we have a donor who will match any future donation towards this target pound for pound up to 50% maximum, which means we just need to raise £29,500 including Gift Aid. Assuming all donations are Gift Aided then the net donations required are now £23,600.

Based on the above success, we convened a full PCC committee meeting on 30th December 2019 and received unanimous approval to sign a contract with the building company early in January 2020 with building work starting at the end of March.

This means that we can make our first application for the repayment of VAT in time to claim for it on our early professional fees incurred at the beginning of 2019, as any invoice above 12 months old cannot be considered for the grant.  Also we wanted to lock in the builder’s prices as any delay could lead to a further increase.

It was discussed and unanimously agreed that although not all the monies were raised we would still be proceeding, as it was not really an option to cancel at this stage as we have already spent £30,000, mainly on various professional fees.

It was also unanimously agreed that we should continue now to raise all the monies including the requirements to complete Phase 2.

In conclusion we therefore need to raise a further £111,500 to complete everything. However if further donations include Gift Aid then the net amount we need to raise is £89,200.

I would appeal to all those persons on the Electoral Role, or live in the village, who read this report and who have not yet donated to please give as generously as you can, and to those who have already donated, could you please give a little more.

This project will be of benefit to all church attendees, villagers and the wider community for many years to come.

A copy of the Gift Aid form can be downloaded here:

Thank you for your kind consideration and donations to date.

Allan Webster

Here’s what we said in our original Appeal leaflet:

We Need…

  • Warmer rooms
  • Disabled access
  • A functional kitchen
  • A larger main room
  • A larger Ambulatory
  • Wider access from the church into the Ambulatory
Photo of existing vestry
Existing vestry
West elevation of the church and proposed vestry as altered
West elevation of the church and proposed vestry as altered. Click for larger image.
North elevation of the church and proposed vestry as altered.

North elevation of the church and proposed vestry as altered. Click for larger image.

We propose:

  • To lay insulation on the floor and the walls of the existing building.
  • To replace the windows with double glazed units.
  • To re-order the toilet and sacristy kitchen to make a disabled access toilet.
  • To convert the priest’s vestry into a kitchen.
  • To increase the size of the choir vestry to make a small hall with a vaulted ceiling. The new hall will be called The Thomas Field Hall.
  • To extend and re-roof the Ambulatory using state-of –the-art glazing techniques to form a glazed lobby to the hall.
  • To enlarge the doorway from the church into the Ambulatory and remove the step down.
Perspective view of the proposed ambulatory.
Perspective view of the proposed ambulatory. Click for larger image.
See a short video demonstrating the need.

This means that there will be more space for:

  • Coffee mornings
  • Sunday School
  • Messy Church
  • Holiday club
  • Lent Lunches
  • Receptions after funerals
  • Concerts and rehearsals
  • Meetings and film nights
  • Workshops and keep fit

These facilities will be accessible separately from the main church and will be available for use by anyone in the village or wider community.

We have achieved:

  • Planning Approval
  • DAC Approval from the Diocese


The original vestry building was constructed in a traditional style and cost the sum of £3,750, an amount which then would buy a small house.  The total cost of the proposed refurbishment and extension, with VAT,  is estimated at about £400,000 of which the church has just over a third in its fund. We therefore need to raise about £250,000 to cover the estimated costs and any unforeseen problems which might arise.

Plan of the proposed vestry alterations
Plan of the proposed vestry alterations. Click for larger image.
  • Appointing an Architect
  • Appointing a Structural Engineer

The Church Heating

In the cold winter of 2017-18 no-one could question that the church always felt cold. We therefore wish to take this opportunity to replace the boiler with a new one, which will be more economical to run, and to replace the heaters with more efficient ones. The cost of all this is included in the above estimate.

Plan of the church showing the proposed vestry alterations
Plan of the church showing the proposed vestry alterations. Click for larger image.

How to help


The most important way to help! 

Each and every donation will be valued and gratefully received.  Each will be anonymous unless requested otherwise.  There is a separate page detailing the different ways in which donations can be made – and see the link below – but essentially they are:

  • A One Off Donation
  • A Donation given in regular instalments
  • A Legacy

If given with Gift Aid the value of the Donation is increased by 25% which makes a big difference.


Be enthusiastic about the project Talk about it to others.  Think of Fund Raising ideas.  Imagine the activities which could go on in the new hall.


Give of your time to help:

  • At fund raising events and other times.
  • To follow up grant applications.  

Principal Contacts

If you wish to donate to the Vestry@50 Appeal, please make this purpose clear when making your gift.
However you choose to help, your support will be very welcome – and will be appreciated by this and future generations

Useful Links