Since Christmas our parish church (the church of Our Lady and St Hugh of Lincoln, Witney) has been unusable due to some extensive modifications that have been being made. They were finally completed a couple of weks ago, and I got to see the results first-hand when I went to Sunday morning mass this weekend.
I'd neglected to take any photos of how it was before (mainly because I didn't have a suitable camera back then) but I've taken some pictures of what it looks like now it's completed.
The most immediately obvious change is to the sanctuary and altar. The raised area of the sanctuary has been reduced in size and made rounded in shape, where it used to be rectangular, and at the same time the pulpit that was to the left of the sanctuary has been removed. There's a new (smaller) altar, and a matching lectern.
I'm not a big fan of the curved screens on either side of the altar. I feel that they make the sanctuary seem small|and the area around the altar somewhat cramped. My brothers, who quite often serve for mass on a Sunday morning, aren't pleased about the altar servers not being able to sit in the sanctuary any more, either.
The next big change that's noticeable is the roof and lighting. The new lights are much brighter than the old ones, and a much more pleasant colour: the old lights seemed to be sodium vapour bulbs, and reminded me of sports hall lighting. The new ceiling is lowered slightly, and I believe it conceals a new, thicker layer of insulation that'll help make the church a bit more comfortable during the winter.
Speaking of winter comfort, there's a new heating system installed throughout the church and presbytery.
The big change that I'm least fond of is to the choir loft: its removal, in fact. The loft has been walled off to forma first-floor meeting room at the back of the church, and the organ moved down to a position just adjacent to the sanctuary. There's much less room for the choir down at the front of the church, and I get the impression that the choirmaster isn't very impressed by the new arrangements.
In the corner between the house and the church is the new day chapel, which is going to be used for weekday mass, when the congregation is so often small enough that using the main church feels a little uncomfortable.
Despite my gripes about the sanctuary and choir loft, I|quite like the changes that have been made to the church, and I think that they make it a much more pleasant and inviting place to worship.