Have faith in your venue
Louisa Daley explores the concept of using religious buildings for events.
Religious events are regularly hosted at religious buildings. So, why do event professionals not consider the same for their events?
To encourage the events industry to choose something different, we explore Westminster Abbey, Church House Westminster, The Monastery Manchester, Audacious Church, LSO St.Luke’s and All Saints Church to see what religious buildings can offer event professionals.
Westminster Abbey is said to be the most iconic, religious building in London. The Gothic church is rich with British history from hosting every Coronation since 1066 as well as 17 Royal weddings, to being the resting place for over 3,000 people, including all Tudor monarchs (except Henry VIII) and Charles Dickens, Isaac Newton and Edward the Confessor, the last Saxon King.
Although the Abbey cannot be hired for conferences, it typically hosts events such as receptions and dinners until 10pm. Choose from four event spaces:
The Cellarium (pictured left) is a contemporary space which can be used for evening events. In reception layout it can host 120 guests, banquet dining for 54 guests and cabaret dining for 70 guests.
The Cellarium Terrace is also a contemporary event space which has access to a small, private outdoor area, suitable for a drink’s reception for 60 guests or 40 for dinner.
Cheyneygates is part of the Deanery and can be used to host breakfast meetings, business lunches and evening receptions or dinners. Sixty guests can enjoy a reception, while there is space for 36 to dine.
College Garden is typically used in June and July for formal gala dinners and informal receptions. It also has a glass marquee and a decked porch area to embrace the summer atmosphere. Up to 500 guests can enjoy a drink’s reception, while dinner accommodates 240.
If you are looking to explore the Abbey further, simply request a guided tour on their website www.westminster-abbey.org – but for now, take a look at its popular spots.
The Coronation Chair is located in St. George’s Chapel and has been part of British Coronations for 700 years.
Poets’ Corner is a popular place for literature lovers. Over 100 poets and writers rest here, such as William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters and Charles Dickens.
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries, a once secret space, now showcases British artefacts such as the Royal marriage licence and an effigy of Henry VII’s head.
To enhance your experience, climb the Weston Tower for access to the Galleries.
Church House Westminster
Around the corner you will find Church House Westminster, which unlike the Abbey, is not classified as a religious building or church but is instead used as the headquarters for the Church of England.
Church House has played host to many historical speeches and events. Its Hoare Memorial Hall has welcomed Winston Churchill and its Convocation Hall hosted the House of Lords during WWII. Its next event could be yours.
If you’re searching for an array of choices, look no further. The Grade II* Listed Building provides event organisers with the option of 19 event spaces. These spaces have previously been used for multi-day conferences, award dinners, press launches, fashion shows and location filming.
“The Assembly Hall is the largest space which can host up to 600 guests for a theatre style conference. The event space compromises of a 30-foot glass dome which is often the focal point of the room,” says Robin Parker, general manager, Church House Westminster.
So, trust your fellow event organisers who reveal that “the space is no ordinary conference room.”
If you prefer something smaller, Church Houses’ online floor plan highlights alternative break out spaces which range from a 6 to 270 guest capacity.
“Church House uses in-house AV which has had a £1m capital investment over 5 years,” Parker says. “The AV available to event organisers includes a 4K projection, 8 stage lighting systems and a complete d&b surround sound to impress your delegates,” he adds.
If you’re an environmentally conscious event organiser, as we all should be, Church House has demonstrated positive steps towards sustainability.
Church House has established a “zero-gift policy” to prevent unwanted corporate gifts from going to waste. Instead, it has opened the floor to charitable donations. It has also replaced its gas equipment in the kitchen and now uses “green electricity from 100% renewable resources” Parker explains.
The Monastery Manchester
The Monastery Manchester is a 19th Century former Franciscan Friary and a Grade II* Listed Building which has now been “completely transformed into an events venue” reveals Kate McGowan, sales coordinator, The Monastery Manchester.
“Event organisers can hire the venue for weddings, conferences, dinner dances and Christmas parties. McGowan adds that the Monastery is a “unique space for any event, you’re not tied to any religion at all.
“The Great Nave is its main event space, which has the maximum capacity of 280 cabaret or 570 theatre style,” McGowan states. The Monastery also offers eight additional friary rooms”, which are smaller syndicate rooms and consist of 6 boardrooms of 32 cabaret.
Its website also offers a virtual tour of the Monastery, which allows event organisers to truly find the right space for their event.
To add to its offerings, event organisers and delegates also have access to a complementary on-site car park and wireless internet connection throughout the venue.
“Audacious Church is not a stereotypical church building with a steeple, pews and stained glass windows,” Rebecca Davison, venue business manager, Audacious Church reveals. In fact, it is a modern church with high ceilings, located in Northern Manchester.
The church has been reinvented as an event space with associated breakout spaces to cater for Sunday congregations. In these spaces, it has hosted conferences, presentations, exhibitions, concerts and dinners.
Note that Audacious cannot be hired on a Sunday, due to its unique Sunday services which include a band, a full PA and lighting system and a LED wall backdrop.
Although it is not licensed for alcohol, clients can hire an external bar with a TENs license, so let the fizz flow at your event.
St.Luke’s is an Anglican church located in, Islington, London and is owned by the London Symphony Orchestra.
The Grade I* Listed Building has a blend of 18th Century architecture and contemporary features,” states Kathy Rose, head of events, LSO St.Luke’s.
Unlike most religious buildings, St.Luke’s has chosen to keep its “original walls and window acloves” alongside restoring its “church clock and golden dragon weathervane”, to emphasise the church’s character and history.
The blend of old and new is “perfectly designed to meet the needs of a new generation of event-goers,” says Rose.
With its retractable seating and a movable rostra, its event spaces can be used for education, rehearsal and recital spaces to corporate and private events.