Chapel to become Buddhist Temple

By PHILIP SKELTON, Working News & Mail, May 26, 2005

KNAPHILL village is to become home to an international Buddhist temple.

Knaphill, UK --Land is being cleared and renovation work is taking place to convert the former Brookwood Hospital chapel and mortuary into a temple and administrative base.

When work is completed it will serve as a place of Buddhist learning and meditation for people in the UK and Europe. There will be a new parking area with access from Brushfield Way and landscaped grounds.

It will be one of 16 Thai Buddhist temples in the UK that serve a population of more than 30,000 Thai people and thousands of British residents interested in Buddhism and meditation.

The gallery will have rooms and an elevated view of the interior.

The group renovating the disused chapel is the Dhammakaya International Society of the United Kingdom (DISUK). This Buddhist movement preaches the teachings of Buddha and practises and teaches the art of meditation.

A registered charity with branches in London and Manchester, DISUK relies on donations from members and visitors.

Teams of volunteers have been busy clearing and cleaning the old chapel in preparation for an interior redesign.

Pews have been taken out and the floor space opened up to accommodate guests and provide space for meditation.

A gallery is to be built and a stage with a statue of Buddha at the front.

Much of the original Anglican building and structure will be preserved including stone arches, pillars and beamed roof arches. When the development at Knaphill is finished Buddhist and meditation ceremonies will take place inside the building.

Monks and helpers stripping the derelect chapel  >>
of its fittings in readiness

The organisation will be holding activities on festival days including chanting and teaching, almsgiving and the offering of sustenance and robes to monks.

The monks, who are highly visible in their saffron robes,  eventually hope to live at the centre. The chapel has been in disuse for a number of years and has been the target of vandals.
When the refurbishment is complete, DISUK hopes it will once again become part of the community.

Phibul Choompolpaisal of DISUK said: ?When the work is finished the centre will be open to the public.

?The temple will offer meditation, teaching and activities for the Thai community and other groups of people in the UK and Europe.

?We hope work will be completed in two years. We are very excited about it and are trying to complete the work as soon as possible.

?We hope the temple will become an historic place in the area, working for people in the UK and Europe.?
Cllr Catherine Fisher, councillor for Knaphill, said: ?It is nice to see the old Anglican building will still be used for the purposes of worship.
?Woking has such a history of embracing other faiths I think the temple will be very welcome.

A computer generated image of how the grounds of the refurbished chapel will look.

?I know members of a Knaphill family who are practising Buddhists and they have to travel to Crawley to the nearest temple.

?They are delighted to have a temple being built nearby. The work carried out by the group so far has stopped vandalism of the old buildings.?

DISUK is holding an open day with a free demonstration of meditation at the temple on Saturday July 30 between 4.30 and 6pm.