The Flat Pack Church – St Michael’s Church in Daws Heath

St Michael in Daws Heath building site
St Michaels and All Angels in Daws Heath Church
St Michaels and All Angels in Daws Heath Church

There was a time when churches were the grandest buildings in any village and most towns. However, nowadays the church does not have so much money to spend on construction and growing parishes can suffer from cramped conditions in unsuitable buildings.

St Michael’s and All Angels in Daws Heath, Thundersley, was one of these parishes. For the last 90 years they were forced to congregate in old 2nd World War army hut. However, this week they have opened their first dedicated church. However, it is not a traditional stone construction, but a modern wooden building that came flat packed from the land of Ikea, Scandinavia.

The congregation of St Michael’s and All Angels has been growing in recent years and they had out-grown their old hut. So a project was launched to build a new church. It was decided that the most economic method was to build from Scandinavian pine.

Buy-a-Log Appeal

The church raised around £470,000 through their “Buy-a-Log appeal”, where members of the congregation donated money to pay for individual logs.

Ken Jones managed the project and arranged for the church walls to be built in in Finland and then sent over of the UK, flat packed, to be constructed by a team of Finnish builders who specialise in flat-pack buildings. If you think a double wardrobe from Ikea is tricky, try building a church without ant instructions!

Daws Heath Church - Interior
Daws Heath Church – Interior

Once the outer building was constructed, British builders took over to build the internal parts of the church. The church features a bell tower, which includes the original Whitechapel bell from 1921, and has lead-framed windows and a wooden alter which has been hand crafted by Rob Symonds. There is also a stained glass window, depicting St. Michael slaying the serpent, which was designed by Nikki Saunders.

Construction work started in May 2012 when the concrete foundations were put down. The church required 7 concrete mixer trucks to fill the foundations with 50 cubic metres of concrete. The construction of the outer walls of the church was started on 19th June 2012 when the first deliveries arrived from Finland shortly followed by the “Timby workforce”.

The wooden construction did not require any scaffolding  the wood simply just slotted together with a few wooden posted to initially support the walls. Within the week the second delivery came from Finland. By the end of July the 25,000 roof tiles were being put in place.

St Michaels altar
St Michaels altar crafted by Rob Symonds

The Garden of Remembrance and paved walkways were created in August by Hall Bros while the internal building work was still being completed. The building includes a community room off the main entrance which was built in August too.

By October the internal work was mostly completed, with the kitchen, which was funded by Essex County Council’s Big Society Fund, being added. The cross was also hung in October.

November saw the finishes touches being put into place, such as the external cross, altar and seating.

The church was consecrated on Sunday 2nd December 2012 by the Bishop of Bradwell the Right Reverend John Wraw.

The Parish of Thundersley

Rev. Marian Sturrock is the Rector of St. Peter’s and St. Michael’s.

To learn more, to visit, to pray etc. go to their website, Or, if you are feeling very hip, you can follow them on Twitter, @ThundersleyPCC.

The new church is located at:

  • St Michael’s Church
  • St Michael’s Road
  • Daws Heath
  • Benfleet
  • SS7 2UW
St Michael in Daws Heath building site
St Michael in Daws Heath – just a building site in April 2012 – Image from Google Maps

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