A century after the Great Fire of London, a church in northern England is on the verge of closing its doors for good.
In a ceremony on Friday (local time), the church’s pastor and its first bishop, John Wood, will formally close the building, which has stood since the 18th century.
Wood and his team have already started the process of moving to a new building in nearby Milton Keynes.
But in order to have the new building built on a much larger scale, the church will have to change its name.
Wood said he wanted to give the congregation a new name, but in the process he was trying to preserve the old one.
“I want to honour the people who built it,” he said.
“It will take a lot of work and sacrifice, but I think we are making a good first step.”
Church leaders say the decision to close the church was not a reflection on the building’s original purpose, but on its own historical legacy.
The cathedral has long been a symbol of England’s religious diversity and the city’s history, with its grand Gothic facade and large bell tower.
However, the cathedral has always been known for its role as a centre for the worship of St Mary of Mount Carmel.
Its name has been the inspiration for the movie, Immaculate Conception.
The church was founded in the 17th century by William Shakespeare, who used the building as a meeting place for his audiences.
Its original inhabitants were mostly Catholics, and in the 1850s the church became the home of a Catholic charity.
The charity, which later became the Anglican Diocese of Oxford, became one of the first Catholic charities to be allowed to provide services to the needy.
The building has long housed a church choir, which in the past was also the home to a school.
In the 1980s, a local newspaper reported that some residents had complained of mould in the building.
The congregation’s director, Father Peter Fiddes, said he had been trying to improve conditions in the church since his arrival.
“The parishioners have always wanted to have their voices heard and we are now hoping to have our voices heard,” he told Al Jazeera.
“It’s very hard to do.”
Church building in England is very rare, and many churches have closed over the years, often due to fire risk.
In recent years, however, some have remained open.
In 2010, the Church of England became the first non-denominational church to be built in the country.
But it has faced a long history of criticism for the way it has operated.
In 1832, a fire at St John the Baptist’s church in Wokingham destroyed much of the building and caused the church to close for nearly 40 years.
More recently, in 2013, a Catholic priest and a woman were killed after the church burned in their building in the northern town of St Albans.
Church building was also in the spotlight in 2015 when the Catholic Church of Ireland announced it would be closing its cathedral in the city of Cork.