St John the Baptist Church in Royston is gearing up to celebrate the restoration of the church building after a devastating fire destroyed much of the interior in 2018.

Thanks to the efforts and support of the congregation and the wider community, the church has now been restored to better than its former self.

Improvements include more efficient lighting and heating, full accessibility, a new kitchen, disabled toilets, baby changing facilities, an AV system and new moveable chairs.

Royston Crow: St John the Baptist Church in Royston has been restored and improved following a devastating fireSt John the Baptist Church in Royston has been restored and improved following a devastating fire (Image: Royston Parish Church)

Although the fire and subsequent damage was a shock, the church council and congregation saw the opportunity to think about how the building could be a better resource for the people of Royston.

A festival of reopening will be held this weekend to celebrate the church's restoration.

Vicar of John the Baptist, the Rev'd Heidi Huntley, said: "After we had taken in the shock of the damage caused by the fire, we realised we had an opportunity to think hard about our purpose in Royston and what else we can do to serve this fantastic town.  

"The way individuals and local organisations rallied to support us when we were down was so encouraging and needed.

"I want to thank everyone who supported us and kept showing their interest in what we were doing to rebuild and reopen the church. 

"All the local support enabled us to go beyond just rebuilding the church to how it was before the fire. 

"We’re thrilled to be able to repay all that kindness by restoring this building in a way that means it’s much more useful as a community space."

After the old pews were destroyed in the fire, the decision was made to raise money to replace them with chairs so the church can be used as a flexible space.

So far, more than 200 chairs have been bought through the church's 'sponsor a chair' fundraising initiative.

The festival of reopening will start with an open day from 10am to 3pm on Saturday, November 26, and a service of thanksgiving with popular hymns and refreshments will take place on Sunday, November 27.

The Bishop of St Albans will re-dedicate the church building on February 19.