Holy orders! Worshippers blast vicar for installing beer pumps in their 600-year-old church saying move is a 'desecration'

  • Post category:news
  • Reading time:5 min(s) read

  • Beer pumps were installed in the 600-year-old St Ia’s Church in St Ives, Cornwall
  •  Worshippers were shocked as they called the move a ‘desecration’ of the church

Worshippers have blasted a Cornish vicar for installing a bar and two beer pumps in their local 600-year-old church. 

Churchgoers slammed the move as a ‘desecration’ of the Grade I-listed St Ia’s Church in Cornwall after the bar was installed ahead of the St Ives September Festival.

The church which was first built in the early-1400s will serve alcohol at the seaside town’s two-week music and arts festival, which attracts thousands of visitors to the seaside town.

The parish church, which is dedicated to St Ia of Cornwall, is set to serve as a venue for the festival, in hosting top artists including Molly Hocking, Bailey Tomkinson, and Cara Dillon.

Now, concertgoers will be able to buy drinks from the new church bar served from two taps installed by St Ives Brewery – despite outrage from shocked locals who said St Ia’s is a church ‘not a pub’. 

Reverend Nick Widdows was pictured pulling pints at the newly installed bar in St Ia's Church in St Ives, Cornwall ahead of the seaside town's two week September Festival

Reverend Nick Widdows was pictured pulling pints at the newly installed bar in St Ia’s Church in St Ives, Cornwall ahead of the seaside town’s two week September Festival

Shocked worshippers slammed the decision to install a bar and two beer pumps in the church

Shocked worshippers slammed the decision to install a bar and two beer pumps in the church

The new bar was installed after St Ia’s was chosen to be one of the festival’s main venues, having previously been just a minor venue for the two-week event. 

Reverend Nick Widdows defended the scheme as said the new bar would be a good way of ‘welcoming’ new people into the church as he insisted it was just a temporary measure. 

READ MORE: ‘Tourists are turning our town into a THEME PARK’: Cornish seaside town St Ives is overrun with staycationers and second home owners – with ‘every square metre’ being turned into holiday lets

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The move was, however, slammed by outraged churchgoers who said St Ia’s is a ‘house of God… not a pub’. 

Churchgoer Barry Lewis, a longstanding member of the congregation, said to put a bar in the church ‘desecrates the memory of those who died for their faith’.

‘As a long-standing member of St Ia Church congregation I must protest in the strongest possible terms regarding the siting of a bar to sell beer close to the high altar and the most sacred parts of our church,’ he said. 

‘For over 600 years, since it was first consecrated, the church has been the outward and visible sign of the spiritual grace granted to us through the martyrdom of St Ia and others in the town.’.

‘Additionally for the current vicar to be photographed pulling pints wearing vestments usually worn when celebrating the Eucharist (Holy Communion) is simply intolerable. I know that many of the congregation will agree with my comments.’

E.v. Rose agreed, saying: ‘This is a house of God. Not a pub.’ Angela Homer also expressed her shock but said the new bar could in fact attract more visitors. 

‘I must confess that I visited this church for the first time last week after visiting St Ives for more than 30 years, she said.

‘It is a beautiful church but it was quite a shock when I saw the bar. I immediately thought, ‘well, maybe it will encourage more people to attend’. Who knows.’

John Webber said: ‘Churches will do anything and everything to get money. Jesus threw out the money makers from the church.’ 

St Ia's vicar Nick WIddows defended the decision to install a bar in the St Ives church by suggesting it could welcome new visitors

St Ia’s vicar Nick WIddows defended the decision to install a bar in the St Ives church by suggesting it could welcome new visitors

St Ives September Festival runs from 9-23 of September with live music in St Ia's Church

St Ives September Festival runs from 9-23 of September with live music in St Ia’s Church

St Ia reverend Nick Widdows, however, defended his decision, insisting it is only a temporary measure.

‘People always have different opinions, so you’re never going to do anything that’s new that is universally welcomed and accepted,’ the vicar said. 

‘A few of our congregation are not particular fans of the beer pumps, especially, but they are only temporary.

‘What I say to them is that this is just part of our way of welcoming all sorts of people into the church. 

‘Above all, we want people to come in and have a positive experience of their time here. 

‘Many people don’t come into the church building at all, and actually, if people come in and have a great time at a festival event, then who knows, maybe they’ll come in for something else as well when we put it on.’

St Ives September Festival runs from September 9 – 23, with live music most evenings at St Ia’s Church.




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