St Peter’s Cowleigh AKA SPARC
St Peter’s is a functioning Church of England church within the parish of Malvern Link with Cowleigh and still holds occasional services for the parish, the remainder being held at its nearby sister churches, Church of the Ascension and St Matthias. All three churches are within a mile of each other – we’re spoilt for choice – so the parish designated St Peter’s to serve primarily as an arts venue for the community, and SPARC (St Peter’s ARts Church) was created.
Touring and local theatre companies, musicians and story-tellers perform here. We also run art and craft courses and hold exhibitions. In recent years, St Peter’s was one of the exhibition venues of the Worcestershire Arts Trail, has served as a conference centre and been used as a rehearsal space for groups such as the Worcestershire Saxophone Ensemble.
We are committed to working alongside our local schools to supplement arts programmes and offer opportunities to children who would otherwise not be able to participate in such experiences. Our summer 2019 Arts Festival will see a number of workshops for children and teenagers.
We also offer workshops for adults, such as our long-running Lino Print classes. 2019 will see an expansion of our offerings.
For details of all workshops, see our What’s On page.
Room for your creativity
St Peter’s Arts Church makes an ideal rehearsal hall for bands and comes complete with toilets and a kitchenette with a small fridge, microwave and tea-making facilities.
St Peter’s is also used as an alternative to more conventional conference facilities and reception centres by those seeking a quiet space in which to work uninterrupted, away from the pressures and interruptions of the usual work environment. The spacious and flexible nave has flexible seating options and can be configured as a single space or sectioned off to create room for small group break-out sessions.
PHONE / 01684 525003
EMAIL / [email protected]
Construction of St Peter’s church began on St Peter’s day (29 June) 1863 on land gifted by Earl Beauchamp. James Griffiths of Eldersfield, was paid the sum of £1,251 to build the church from locally quarried Malvern stone and it was consecrated three years later on St Peter’s day 1866. St Peter’s was designed in 13th C style by G.E. Street, the architect of the Law Courts in London, who strove to make his ecclesiastical architecture an expression of the spirit of worship. St Peter’s is wider and shorter than would be the norm in order to accommodate the steep slope of the hillside, which merely adds to its charmingly humble character.
Malvern Link undergoes a period of rapid social change and church attendance declines nation-wide – Cowleigh is no exception. Church of England parishes receive no funding from the government, thus the lack of congregation members means there aren’t the funds to serve the community or heat, light and repair the building.
In January 1973, on Order in Council confirmed a pastoral scheme to unite the parishes of Cowleigh and Malvern Link into a single benefice known as Malvern Link with Cowleigh. St Peter’s and it’s sister church, the Church of the Ascension were served by a Team Vicar and St Matthias was served by the Rector.
In January 2013, the DCC of St Peter’s Church commissioned the North Malvern Arts, Crafts and Leisure Cooperative Ltd. as an independent organisation for the promotion of drama, story-telling, music, arts and crafts for the benefit of the community, itself and its members and for the care of St Peter’s church itself.
The Team Vicar departed in 2008 and changing fortunes within the Diocese resulted in the post being made redundant. In 2010 the District Church Councils of the three churches within the Malvern Link with Cowleigh benefice made the brave decision to pool their resources and become a single parish with one governing body, the Parochial Church Council (PCC).
The Parish hired a new Vicar, The Reverend Phillip Johnson, after the previous incumbent retired. In previous lives when he was much, much younger, Fr Phillip has been a jobbing actor, a drama teacher at a prestigious London school and MD of his own theatre company for many years.
With Fr Phillip in post, biscuit in hand, the arts at St Peter’s Church are now in a position to move to the next level – and St Peter’s ARts Church (SPARC) is born!
June 2019 saw the launch of our first-ever Arts Festival featuring fantastic live performances from musicians Duke Special, Mister Keith and Flatworld, poets Brian Bilston and Carol Ann Duffy and master storytellers Hugh Lupton and Daniel Morden. What a treat! Thank you to all our performers and you, our lovely audience members, who came from near and far to make it such a successful event! Here’s to next year!