Chris and Ella Pope are the husband and wife team behind Pope Stevens Architecture, who are taking the exciting steps of turning the development of Graylingwell Chapel into reality. They are the project architects CCDT has commissioned from January 2021 to oversee the RIBA stage 5-7 phases of the project. As residents of Chichester for over 25 years, Chris and Ella have worked throughout West Sussex, with particular expertise in listed and ecclesiastical buildings.
It’s not just their skills and relevant experience that secured them the role, it is Ella and Chris’s love of working with old buildings such as Graylingwell Chapel. It is the tender respect with which they pay the building, making sure that whilst materials and technology will be modernised, the essence of the building isn’t lost. They are working tirelessly to ensure that as you walk in to the building you will still be struck by a sense of wonder at the serenity of the old chapel, how peaceful it is; how many stories and how much history is built into the fabric of the building.
Chris and Ella are also passionate about both using natural materials wherever is possible, and working with local experts in every field to ensure a really tailor made experience and tight team bring the chapel back to life in a very special way. Each contractor secured feels a real commitment to the project and has an understanding of the amazing community space it will become – it’s not simply a build project to them.
The architectural work that Pope Stevens has carried out has respected the original architect’s concept of a reliquary, where memories of Graylingwell can be treasured. The meeting rooms are timber framed, keeping the construction as simple as possible and installed in such a way as to not damage the original fabric of the Chapel. The same approach has been taken with all the fittings in the Chapel, designed as ‘objects’ with a light touch, respecting the listed building they sit in and providing flexibility to the CCDT as to how they choose to use the space. The café includes masonry and timber construction with minimal steel, concealed behind a pre-patinated zinc cladding to the walls and roof, and glazing designed to welcome visitors to sit in or outside. The flooring throughout will be natural linoleum, creating a really warm and welcoming feeling, being great to sit on if wished as well as sustainable.
Graylingwell Chapel’s redevelopment is now underway, with a hope of the chapel once again opening it’s doors to the community by the end of this year. It will include a café extension, and within the body of the chapel a large events and seating space, two internal rooms for workshops or meetings and a pre-school interactive play area.