by Emma Midgley
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey is a member of St George
A Newbury church is aiming to be the first in the country to go carbon neutral.
St George the Martyr Church, Wash Common, will derive all its energy needs from sustainable sources rather than fossil fuels.
Parish Priest Reverend Paul Cowan explained to BBC Radio Berkshire's Claire Catford how the church came to decide on this course.
"We had an old knackered heating system which was totally on its last legs.
"And we also wanted to open up the church much more for community use, it's a beautiful space but very underused," he said.
"It could be used so much more for concerts and exhibitions by the local community."
As the church discussed how to replace the heating system, they began thinking about the environment.
"That quickly snowballed into the plan we've now got, which is to go carbon neutral," said Paul.
"In real terms we, as a church, burn 15 tonnes of carbon per year. And our church is only used for services three or four times a week.
"That's one church. In the Church of England alone there are 16,000 churches in the country. If you take church schools, church offices and clergy houses into account that adds up to a huge amount.
"I think there's something important about being a guinea pig and leading the way. All churches are going to have to be thinking this more and more over the coming years."
History of St George the Martyr
Plans for St George the Martyr Church originated following the enclosure of Wash Common in Victorian times. The idea of a Soldiers' and Sailors' memorial church developed in the early 20th century and a building fund was started.
St George the Martyr Church was designed by FC Eden
The church was named after England's patron soldier-saint and built to commemorate the fallen of World War I as well as those who perished on both sides in the Battle of Newbury in 1643.
It is one of only two churches in England designed by F.C. Eden FSA FRIBA, an authority on Italian art and architecture and is based on the early Renaissance pilgrimage chapels found by the Italian Lakes in the foothills of the Alps.
The church was completed in the 1960s.
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