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Norfolk churches nominated for historic award

Two Norfolk Churches have been shortlisted in the prestigious Historic England Angel Awards in the ‘Best Rescue of a Historic Place of Worship’ category. 

St Michael’s Church in Hockering has undertaken two major restoration projects recently. The first project tackled the problem of failing roofing in the nave and north aisle, and a complete re-wiring of the church. The second more dramatic project addressed the structural movement in the chancel. The problems were deemed so severe that the church was put on the National Heritage ‘At Risk’ register. The vital repairs were carried out and completed in early 2015. 

These repair works cost nearly £400,000 with Historic England providing the lion’s share. Other funders included Norfolk Churches Trust, Hockering Charities, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Wolfson Foundation, the Headley Trust, Allchurches Trust Ltd, the Bishop of Norwich Fabric Fund and the Pennycress Trust Ltd.  

forncettSt Mary’s Church, Forncett St Mary (pictured) has also undergone dramatic restoration.  The Church was made redundant in the early 1980s and fell into disrepair. The interior, windows, organ and walls were neglected and vandalised. Wooden floorboards were unsafe and the buttress on the outer east wall was suffering from subsidence and at risk of extensive deterioration. The Church was subsequently placed on the Buildings at Risk Register.

Initial clearance of the graveyard and church interior was carried out and funded by Graham Prior, transforming the graveyard and making sure all graves were accessible. Mains electricity was reconnected, repairs carried out to the roof and interior and exterior walls. The drains were cleared and rotten wooden floorboards and the Chancel and Tower West windows replaced. The east wall buttress has been underpinned to stop the risk of subsidence. 

The rescue began in 2007 and should be completed by 2015. In 2012 the Church was brought out of redundancy. The Church is regularly in use for services, concerts, exhibitions, craft fairs, valuation days and talks. It is open every day for visitors to view the Church, graveyard and surrounding area.

A panel of judges, chaired by Andrew Lloyd Webber, will select a winner from the shortlisted projects in each of the four categories. A fifth award is available for the ‘people’s favourite’ – the project which has received the most votes from members of the public.  Voting takes place on-line on the Historic England website (http://historicengland.org.uk/news-and-features/angel-awards/shortlist-2015/) until midnight on Sunday August 16, 2015.  The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at the Palace Theatre, London on Monday September 7, 2015.  

Picture courtesy of historicengland.org.uk


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