Is indoor plumbing a passing fad?

The Daily Telegraph reports on a planning dispute over the installation of a toilet in a church in Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, England. The addition of indoor plumbing to the church building is part of a renovation that also drew ire from local historians objecting to the removal of a chancel wall, and railings which were themselves a 19th-century addition to the 13th-century church.

The Vicar and Churchwardens of St Mary the Virgin, part of the Tyndale Benefice in the Diocese of Gloucester

argued that the building needed to be a “fluid, flexible and adaptable space for worship, teaching, social activities and concerts”.

The Telegraph article focused mainly on arguments over the addition of toilets to the church building. Currently, the closest facilities are in a parish hall, separated from the church by some 30 yards. Not everyone embraced the idea of convenience when it came to the new plans.

In a letter opposing the idea objector Brian Jones told the court: “There is no compelling need to have them in the church since there are already two in the Parish Room which is no more than thirty yards from the North Door.

“Lavatories in a church is a current fad, but I see no reason why we should blindly follow it. The expense is quite unjustified.” …

Among a list of objections were “Noise disturbance and distraction during services (creaking/slamming/clicking doors/footfall/water running/flushing),” “smells (cleaning fluids/sprays)”, as well as the concern that “toilets attract children”.

Another objector wondered, “Why have anything as undignified as a lavatory in a church?” as though the dignity of human bodily experience had not been well established by the precedents of Creation and the Incarnation.

Alicia Collinson, deputy chancellor of the Diocese of Gloucester, ruled in favor of the toilets, saying she was

“firmly of the view that toilets are needed inside this church, and I am satisfied that sufficient steps can be taken to minimise their use being an intrusion on the solemnity of church services”.

Read more at the Daily Telegraph and the Reordering St Mary’s page of the church’s website.

Featured image via St Mary the Virgin, Wotton-under-Edge, on Facebook

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