Since the transformation of the St. Peter Chapel into a dual purpose building for the use of the diocese and and arts centre in 2003, the Eype Centre for the Arts at St. Peter’s has become a viable and well-known and loved venue for artistic events. These have included concerts, literary festivals, theatrical performances, art exhibitions 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 changed its name to the Eype Centre for the Arts to differentiate itself from the Church of England activities which still take place at St. Peter’s. The building retains its consecrated status and there is a monthly Evensong as well as some other religious activities. The Chapel is a popular venue for the Symondsbury School Christmas event and a parish Carol Service.
Churches have historically played an important, sometimes crucial, role in the development of the arts. Think the Renaissance. The arts and financial support the Eype Centre for the Arts gives to the local Parish has helped to keep the building open and we try to encourage a greater use of the chapel.
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.
Our mailing list has grown from just over 100 in 2004 to over 1,000 and 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.