Baptisms in our church used to take place in the Relic Chapel before it was restored, and were always very cramped. Since the restoration of the Relic Chapel, the font has been moved to the back of the church, which makes more space for family and friends at baptisms. But baptism is important — it deserves a separate, more dignified and dedicated space.
The chosen solution returns to Hansom’s original designs for the church. The new Baptistery will be built to the south of the church, opposite the porter's lodge, opening up the blocked arch that Hansom left for this purpose. It will also provide access to the new Chapel to the west of the Baptistery.
Entering the Baptistery from the Church, sunlight will drop gently onto the font from the light tube above. Here is the model, cut away so you can see into the ground-floor Baptistery and the first-floor gallery above it at the same time.
Doors on the left open into a confessional with wheelchair access on the ground floor. This is very important: none of our existing confessionals are accessible to a wheelchair user.
Above the Baptistery is a gallery. On this level, the door opens onto the stair which leads to the room above; we call it the “Chapter Room” because it has the light tube in the middle like the central pillar in Westminster Abbey Chapter House, and many other mediaeval chapter houses. It will also be used for choir rehearsals, because it will open directly into the choir loft, and can also serve for exhibitions, lectures and other displays connected with the library.