Restored Ringwood Meeting House opens to visitors
It’s official! Ringwood Meeting House is once again open to visitors after a much-needed programme of restoration and repair costing in excess of £700,000.
The Grade II* listed former18th century Presbyterian Meeting House was formally re-opened by Councillor Anna McNair Scott, Chairman of Hampshire County Council, on Thursday 10 November, accompanied by trustees and members of the Ringwood Meeting House Association.
The project, which has transformed the building – thought to be one of the most complete example of such an 18th century chapel remaining in the country –has brought the story of Ringwood’s past into public display. The project has been made largely possible with over £500,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and further support from the E J Stephenson Trust, Hampshire County Council, New Forest District Council, Ringwood Town Council, a legacy from the late Pauline Wareham and other private benefactors.
Following extensive work taking place throughout the summer, representatives of all partners involved in the project were invited to attend the launch and mark the completion of works to this wonderful building.
Chairman of Ringwood Meeting House Association, John Waddington welcomed the guests. He said, “This is the culmination of hard work and dedication by our Trustees and members over the 25 years we have been responsible for Ringwood Meeting House.”
Councillor Anna McNair Scott added, “Over the centuries this building has been a comfort and support through bad times and a place for celebration during happy times, such as today. May it continue to be a repository of local knowledge for future generations.”
Stuart McLeod, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for the South East, said, “I’m delighted to see Ringwood Meeting House restored. Built in 1727 this building is a true historic gem, having stayed virtually intact with many original features, including the box pews, still in situ. The completion of this project means that many more visitors will be able to walk through its doors and marvel at its fascinating history.”
The Trustees are hoping that the new History Centre in the galleries will also bring in more visitors. The attraction tells the story of Ringwood, using many of the old photographs in the Association’s collection and also encourages children to discover more about their heritage with games and dressing-up clothes. A computerised archive of photographs is being compiled to enable visitors to research Ringwood’s history and a new website will make it easier to find out more about the centre. Better lighting, heating and disabled facilities have created a friendly, relaxed atmosphere where visitors can meet old friends or make new ones and enjoy the refreshments on offer.
Ringwood Meeting House & History Centre is open every morning Monday to Saturday from 10am to noon and until 2.30pm on Wednesdays.
Entrance is 70p including a cup of coffee or tea.
Ringwood Meeting House