We had a good little trip to Northampton to check out where we are going to live and to meet a few people. The Tuesday consisted of a pre-arranged visit to the house with the diocesan property manager and a number of meetings with others that we will be working with.
We began the day by going to the Grange Park estate. This is mostly about 10 years old and is a lovely new-build situated a little further outside Northampton than the estates in Duston and Upton where I will be working on. There are still plans to add to the development at Grange Park.
When Grange Park was in its initial stages of completion, a decision was made to plant a church at the centre of the new community. So Rev. Charlie Nobbs and (I think) some members of the congregation moved to the estate and started meeting in the community centre, forming Grange Park Church. They also started a number of community groups which simply supported the people who lived there in a variety of ways. Recently, they have opened a coffee shop in the local centre called the Kairos Centre, which is open most mornings and staffed by volunteers.
So, having been woken up early due to our four month old, and in search of a good coffee, due to travelodge only providing instant(!), we headed down to Grange Park and found the community centre. There we bumped into one of the volunteers, a member of grange park, who is involved in some support groups for mums and babies. After a chat with her, she pointed us to the Kairos centre, which was closed!
Then, a meeting with the local vicar of St. Luke’s Duston, a lovely old building in the old village of Duston, but which is separated off a little from the new estates (hence my post). St. Luke’s seems to get a lot of baptisms, weddings and funerals so there is plenty of opportunity to serve the community there.
Then onto the house to meet with the property manager and the Archdeacon, where we were surprised to be given a key. Whilst there, we bumped into the Area Dean for Northampton who very kindly invited us for lunch. He is very supportive of the possibilities in Duston and Upton to serve the community.
It was raining all day on Tuesday so we didn’t get a chance to walk around the St. Crispin’s estate. Much of it is an old hospital that is still to be renovated. The potential in the buildings is huge – it is centred around a picturesque green with a clock tower which should become a very pleasant environment indeed. Although there are no shops or a community centre there (yet), I was pleased to find a cricket club and bowls club which I think have been there for some time. St. Luke’s school also recently moved from the old village to a brand new building at St. Crispin’s. These might be good places to meet local people (and have some fun at the same time)
On the wednesday we walked around the new Upton development. This is probably only half built and the houses are build to a very high architectural and environmental standard. At the moment there are just houses, a new primary school, and a children’s play area. Walking around we saw very few people out and about – a couple walking dogs on the nearby park. This is probably because there isn’t much on the estate to walk to, apart from the school which was closed for half term. I’m guessing that people generally leave their houses and jump straight in their cars to drive somewhere. Whilst is looks like a lovely place, I wonder how the community will gel as a community, until, perhaps a local centre or community room is built
So, it was a very interesting couple of days in which we feel we’ve learnt a lot. Now we just can’t wait to get stuck in!