How Horspath Chapel could benefit the village
The Friends aim to continue the vision that the Methodist Church started in developing the Meeting Place as a facility to serve the whole village community. St. Giles' Parochial Church Council has built on this by forming "The Friends of Horspath" which is now a community wide organization. We will use this beneficial facility to act as a hub for building a stronger community spirit within the village and for helping to prevent social isolation. The central location of the Chapel as a Meeting Place makes it the most accessible building in the village, as it can be reached by those who are the most disadvantaged and who have so much to gain from improved opportunities, from our planned activities, and through our links with voluntary organisations. Local people will benefit directly from a lively, attractive and welcoming resource, catering for everyone from babies to pensioners.
A survey of all village residents undertaken by the Friends of Horspath in January 2012 received an overwhelming response: 98% of the respondents wished to retain the Chapel as a community hub, centrally located and easily accessible, and they have specified the ways they would like it to be used. People throughout the village have told us that they would value the opportunity to participate in activities including, a drop-in centre for people to meet and build up a strong fellowship with one another, as well as regular activities for villagers to join. Although close to Oxford City, Horspath suffers from all the disadvantages of many isolated rural villages with only an hourly bus service Monday through to Saturday and no service on Sundays. Our Post Office has recently closed, taking away that central link that many people depend on. The social and financial hardship that many face is compounded by the relative affluence of some parts of the village. However, we have 2 mobile home parks (totaling 110 households), 2 areas of affordable housing (22 households) 150 pensioner households, 37 of which are without a car. There are more than 220 residents with seriously limiting long-term illnesses. (Horspath Neighbourhood Statistics: Census 2011) There is a very real need to address the downward spiral of social isolation and loneliness among the most vulnerable in our community, especially the long term sick and disabled.
The Anglican Church of St. Giles, which is now the only faith organisation in Horspath, is used by the local Church of England school, as well as by the Methodists who are no longer able to worship in the Chapel. However, this church does not have any facilities for community events as it lacks any running water or toilets. It is a Grade 2* English Heritage listed medieval church and so it would be difficult for it to be altered. As there is no 'church hall' in Horspath, there is already a tradition for using the Chapel for many community events associated with St. Giles Church.
The village desperately requires a safe footpath to access the facilities based in Oxford Road (the Village Hall, Children's Playground, Adventure Playground, Cricket Pitches, dog walking facilities, and car park). As the rear garden of the Chapel backs directly onto the village playing fields, it is planned to establish a path from the Chapel to the Village Hall facilities simply by installing a gate in this fence. This will then be used as a safe walkway, rather than negotiating the dangerous bend on the main road, which families with pushchairs and young children and the elderly and infirm with walking sticks and wheelchairs find very difficult. They will often not attempt the walk along this dangerous route, and so do not attend events or use the present village facilities. This would also enhance the safety of those using the Chapel building as parking would be available for them at the Village Hall car park. At present those needing parking on the Chapel site have to exit onto a very busy road at a dangerous bend.
Latest update 21 June 2013