Since the re-ordering of St. Peter’s Church into a space that can be used both for religious uses and an arts centre in 2003, the Eype Centre for the Arts has become a viable and well-known and loved venue for artistic events. These have included concerts, literary festivals, theatrical performances, art and photographic exhibitions, with superb light and hanging systems, and even used as recording studio with splendid acoustics.
In August 2007 the fledgling arts organisation became a Registered Charity operating under Licence from the Salisbury Diocese and hires the space from Symondsbury PCC. The building retains its consecrated status and there is a weekly service as well as other religious services and events. The Church is a popular venue for the Symondsbury School Christmas event and a Parish Carol Service, as well as Harvest Festival and Supper and private bookings, such as charity lunches, christening parties, advertising filming, etc.
Churches have historically played an important, sometimes crucial, role in the development of the arts, eg. the Renaissance. The financial support the Eype Centre for the Arts gives through its hire fees to the local Parish has helped to keep the building open and encouraged a greater use of the building.
The 2002/2003 transformation of the Victorian Church into a versatile space takes the building back to what churches were traditionally used for; a local meeting place, a village hall, a community centre as well as a haven for prayer. The success of introducing an arts centre demonstrates what can be done to save threatened church buildings and may well inspire other Parishes to look at their increasingly redundant buildings in a new light.
The organisation is still managed on a totally voluntary, but hopefully professional, basis.
We hope we will encourage you to join us in celebrating the arts. But also to pay tribute to the foresight of the Rev. Dr. Raymond Shorthouse, the incumbent of Symondsbury Parish in 2002, who persuaded his fellow Trustees of the Walbridge Trust to use part of the substantial bequest for which they were responsible to save St. Peter’s by creating this amazing and versatile space in its beautiful and dramatic setting overlooking the sea and the stunning Jurassic Coast.