Ella Pope and Chris Stevens 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 on West Sussex properties throughout, 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 carried out has ensured that the meeting rooms are timber framed, as is the cafe extension, with a natural linoleum floor, creating a really warm and welcoming feeling.
Ella’s insight into CCDT’s dream of a space in which everybody can wander and wonder, and local residents’ hopes for what the chapel would become was built on the foundations of many hours volunteering to consult with those living in Graylingwell Park, Roussillon Park and Keepers Green as she headed up the FIKA survey into community hopes, frustrations and needs carried out in 2020. She and Chris have used all of that knowledge to make sure that the chapel always has the local community’s needs at it’s heart.
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.