Ilfracombe church seeks drinks licence

Joseph Bulmer

Holy Trinity Church is bidding to become the first in North Devon to hold a license to sell alcohol.

ILFRACOMBE’S Parish Church is seeking to become the first church in North Devon to hold a licence to sell alcohol.

The local church authorities have applied to North Devon Council seeking a premises licence for Holy Trinity Church that will enable the sale of alcoholic drink at events such as concerts.

Father Robert Harris, Priest in Charge of the parish, said it was something the church in general had been doing for a long time, with many churches across the country holding licences, particularly those well known as concert venues.

“The church is very definitely not being turned into a pub,” he told the Gazette.

“The sale of alcohol would only be tied to specific events such as a concert or an evening event – it’s not going to be a case of come to church on a Sunday and have a pint afterwards.”

The council’s licensing department confirmed the Parochial Church Council of Holy Trinity and St Peter’s had applied for a premises licence, which as far as it could tell was a first in the North Devon district. The licence would permit the sale of alcohol from 10am-11pm.

“It enables us to further develop our hospitality in that we want to provide a welcoming venue where events can take place for both the church and community,” said Father Robert.

“When there is an event or performance such as a concert at other venues, people are able to have a glass of wine or whatever, so it makes the church more attractive as a venue.

“So it’s partly about making events attractive to a wider number of people and partly a means of celebrating our lives together.

“People might say that the church should not be serving alcohol, but Jesus’ first miracle was to turn water into wine.”

The church is seeking to expand its social calendar, with a Burns Night celebration planned for January and a medieval night in February.

Church council member David Beagley said it was hoped there could be an increase in events such as the concert by the famous Ebbw Vale Male Voice Choir earlier this year, to encourage use of the 400-seater church as a venue.

“We definitely want the people of Ilfracombe to realise the church is there for them to use,” he said.

“We would like to get more people into the church and we feel the more they use it, the more they might like to come along to a service on a Sunday, too. No drink would be kept there, it would only be brought in for events.”