The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

Norfolk churches celebrate £770k of vital grants

Four Norfolk churches are celebrating after receiving grants worth £770,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help secure their futures and make them more available to their local communities. Keith Morris reports. 

BurstonStMarys450St Ethelbert’s Church in Alby, St Mary’s Church in Burston, St Martin’s Church, New Buckenham and St Peter and St Paul, Swaffham are among the first of 35 churches across the UK to be awarded a grant through HLF’s new Grants for Places of Worship programme.  This vital money is helping congregations address a backlog of urgent repairs to listed churches and chapels at risk.
Launched in March 2013, it supersedes the Repair Grants for Places of Worship scheme. In addition to providing money for urgent structural repairs, the programme will fund new works that support and encourage greater community use and engagement, helping to increase the number of people who take an active interest in celebrating these historic buildings and who will care for them in the future.  As well as conservation work, the grants will help to fund historical exhibitions, leaflets and guide books; train volunteers as tour guides; and develop digital information, such as websites and apps for smartphones. 
St Mary’s Church, Burston (above), near Diss has received £169,500 which, according to church warden David Crowe, will enable the church to open up its facilities to the community even more than it is doing so at present.
The 14th century church is used for a regular youth club, quiz nights and other community events and has in the past even been the venue for school PE lessons. The pews were taken out 20 years ago which, explains David, means that the large open space is ideally suited for community use.
The HLF grant will be used to repair the nave roof which was built in Victorian times, along with new guttering and drainage. It will also be used to restore a wooden turret which houses the church’s only bell after the church tower fell down in the 18th century.
David said: “Other improvements will be made to the church kitchen and in setting up a history trail and church guide so that visitors and local children can more easily find out about its past. We are very pleased to receive the grant after being unsuccessful previously. It will enable us to make the church available for even more community events and uses.
“We want it to be accessible and used for as many church and non-church activities as possible as we are a very small community and have no village hall. The hard work is just starting now though.”
The PCC and church friends will be contributing towards the overall project cost of around £180k.
StPeterPaulSwaffham450St Peter and St Paul, Swaffham (right), has received a grant of £250,700. Church warden Ralph Clarke, explained that the largest element was to replace all the rainwater guttering and drainpipes on the church and the 500-year-old soakaway drainage system which was no longer coping with torrential downpours.
The grant would also be used to improve disabled access to the church, improve kitchen and toilet facilities and increase storage space. It will also be used to pay for an extra set of glass doors at the east end of the ringing chamber.
Ralph said: “Obviously we are very pleased to receive the grant as a whole team of people have put a lot of effort into the application process.”
St Martin’s Church, New Buckenham (below) in South Norfolk, received a grant for £155,100 to pay to re-cover the south side of the nave roof and re-lead it, repair clerestory windows and the south isle floor.
StMartinsNewBuckenham451Church fabric officer Christopher Pearson, who is leading the project, said: “We are very pleased to receive the grant which should enable us to pay for all the repairs. Like many other churches, St Martin’s was restored at the end of 19th century but work is now needed again. If we had not received the grant it would have been a case of patch and hope.”
St Ethelbert’s Church, Alby, North Norfolk (below) has received £195,400 which, according to Rev Brian Faulkner, is vital in keeping the building open for community use.
“When I heard, I absolutely could not believe it,” he said. “We are really very grateful as there is major damage to the roof of the church nave with water coming in badly at times. The work to repair it is essential and the building would have been at risk otherwise.
“Alby is a small community of less than 100 people including some who love the church,” he said. “If we can go ahead then the community will have a loved parish church that can be used in a fuller way for community purposes as there is no village hall.”
The grant, which will cover around 80% of the total cost, will also be used to install a toilet and better quality heating while augmenting the drainage system. The church will be looking to find the rest of the money from local and grant sources.
AlbyChurch450Robyn Llewellyn, Head of HLF East of England, said; “There is a place of worship in almost every village and town across the eastern counties of England, providing a very powerful visual connection with our past.  Not only will Lottery player’s money help to secure the immediate survival of these remarkable buildings, it will also encourage congregations to adapt these buildings so they can be enjoyed more widely throughout the community and in turn enable them to be more sustainable for the future.”
Greg Luton, East of England Planning and Conservation Director, English Heritage, said: 'The continuing commitment of the Heritage Lottery Fund to historic places of worship, coupled with our specialist knowledge of these buildings and their repair needs, has helped to underpin the commitment of local people facing costly yet urgently necessary repairs. This vital work marks an important step towards ensuring a sustainable future for these cherished buildings at the heart of their communities.'
For more information about applying for HLF’s funding for places of worship visit www.hlf.org.uk/howtoapply

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