Funding boost for three Norfolk churches
Three Norfolk churches are amongst 30 churches and chapels in England, Wales and Scotland benefitting from grants totalling £550,000 given by the National Churches Trust.
St John the Baptist Church in Harleston receives a £10,000 National Churches Trust Community Grant to help fund a project to provide toilets.
Toilets will allow the church to be used far more as a community resource, as it is well positioned in the middle of the town with an easy accessible car park. This will include the permanent use of the church by Foodbank for the distribution of food parcels, by the Choral Society for their rehearsals, social events especially for the young and elderly and Mothers’ Union meetings.
The church currently hosts the local sewing group, coffee mornings, refreshments once a week, light lunches once a month and art and craft exhibitions. The Harleston Choral Society hold concerts twice a year and the summer Harleston Festival use it regularly each year but the local hall has to be used for the toilets. It is also used by the Mother's Union, Wives Group and various fellowship groups.
All Saints Church, Hemblington also receives a £10,000 National Churches Trust Community Grant to help fund a project to provide level access into the church, a small extension for a disabled toilet, a kitchenette and a small heritage/tourism area.
Since May 2012 the church has increased its opening hours from just Sundays to every day of the week between 9am and 5pm and visitor numbers have increased considerably as a result.
The new facilities will allow local groups to use the church as an educational resource, encourage more children to become part of the community by developing child friendly worship and help those travelling long distances to weddings baptisms and funerals. It will make the church a place to linger rather than to rush away from at the end of services and events, strengthening friendship between church and community members.
Hemblington has a simple yet special treasure in its church. Despite being a very small parish in a rural location, it has served its community well. This is a church that takes the visitor far away from the rush of a busy world. The round tower, dating from 1060 – 1100, is a reminder of the long history of Christian worship on this site. Within it, one of the country's largest wall paintings of St Christopher greets the visitor. The uncluttered interior, medieval bench ends and magnificent font all tell stories of faith and worship throughout the centuries.
St Nicholas Church, North Walsham also receives a £10,000 National Churches Repair Grant to help fund repairs to the tower, bellcote, stonework and west window.
Regular community activities take place in the church including concerts, weekly soup lunches for college students, art exhibitions and civic services.
The present church of Saint Nicholas was built in the 14th Century and its’ tower was the tallest local construction, second only in height to Norwich Cathedral. It contained a peal of bells which were rung for the Ascension Tide Fayre in 1724. The following day the tower collapsed and began to take on the shape known today.
During the 19th century more masonry fell and the tower wall was lowered and made safe with further stabilisation work carried out in 1939. In 2011 flints were falling and a crack appeared in the exposed wall and a high level survey revealed crumbling walls which require proper measures to make the tower safe and durable for the future.
All pictures taken by Simon Knott: www.norfolkchurches.co.uk
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