Since 2003 when the transformation of the St. Peter Chapel into a space for the dual use by the diocese and an arts centre had been completed, the embryonic Eype Centre for the Arts at St. Peter’s, Eype has become a viable and well-known and loved venue for artistic events; whether they be art exhibitions, theatrical events, concerts, literary festivals or even a recording studio.
In August 2007 the fledgling organisation became a Registered Charity operating under Licence from the Salisbury Diocese 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 weekly service 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. Through the arts and the financial support the Eype Centre for the Arts gives to the local Parish in helping to keep the building open we try to encourage a greater use of the church.
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.
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 the 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.