St Andrew’s church in the picture box town of Castle Combe, Wiltshire has a rich and varied history. It contains a rare example of a working faceless clock and has been used as the setting for many films and TV programmes.
We worked with the small and dedicated team to create an experience that is accessible, engaging and allows visitors access to much more information about the church and its environs than a traditional church tour could offer. Because visitors use their own devices to connect it also provides a safe and sanitised visit.
The following, written by a key member of the church team provides an insight into how Info Point has met their goals, exceeded expectations and provided valuable digital literacy training and experience.
Five years ago I became aware of Info Point at one of the Historic Religious Buildings Alliance’s Big Update conferences in London. Having used curated audio tours in art. galleries, I learned that, with an Info Point system in our unmanned historic church in the heart of Castle Combe, visitors could access curated heritage and other relevant information via their smartphones.
Over the following two years, a major church building project was undertaken and completed. Info Point was considered at that time as an opportunity to provide an educational resource, but the small volunteer team that fundraise, manage and care for the church did not have the resources to embark on such a project.
After months of closure and significant loss of visitor income due to lockdowns and restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic, the Government’s Culture Recovery Grant scheme, announced in July 2020, appeared to offer us an opportunity to open safely for visitors again. As part of our application plan for the opening of the church to visitors, we developed a one way trail through the church, highlighting items of heritage interest via signage, a visitor assistant and a recyclable paper leaflet. In December 2020, we were delighted to receive funding to develop the trail to provide smartphone accessible heritage information via an Info Point system, which would also be of long term benefit to the church when it was not possible to man it.
This has been a substantial joint creative process; from accessing historical records, images and developing content
to a significant amount of digital and computer training for some of us! We are very grateful to Dan for his support and patience. We would also like to thank Joe who has developed their user friendly system and interesting design features.
Now our Info Point trail is up and running. Visitors access it by using their phone camera or tablet to scan a QR code on entering the church. Although there is no charge for access, we do ask for a donation if visitors are able to do this. We are very pleased with the feedback to date and are excited to think of future opportunities for developing and using our Info Point system.Karen Munnings, PCC member, St Andrew’s Church, Castle Combe
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