The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

Heritage Lottery Fund grants Gissing church £208k 

St Mary’s Church in Gissing, South Norfolk has been awarded a Heritage Lottery grant to complete significant repairs to the building enabling it to be used more widely by the village community.

The Gissing Parochial Church Council and the Friends of Gissing Church partnership have secured a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £208,800 to carry out significant repairs on the medieval church of St Mary the Virgin in Gissing near Diss.

Combined with other grants including from the National Churches Trust, The Norfolk Churches Trust, Round Tower Churches Society, All Churches Trust Limited, Garfield Weston Foundation and the Bishop of Norwich’s Fabric Fund this now enables St Mary’s Church to finance improvements totalling £280,000.

In 2011 the Church was faced with the real possibility of falling into disrepair, disuse and eventually closure. Responding to this challenge a group of local residents set up “The Friends of Gissing Church”.  The aim of this secular group is to assist the Parochial Church Council by finding sufficient money each year to cover the regular maintenance of St Mary’s, not just for the benefit of those who worship there but also for those who want to safeguard this unique part of Gissing’s heritage.

The church had been added to English Heritage’s ‘Heritage At Risk’ Register and, since 2013, supports have been in place, to prevent the walls of the Grade I listed building from collapsing.

George Hammond, Lay Chairman of the Gissing PCC, said everybody involved was “absolutely delighted” to reach this vital stage in the project. He told the Diss Express: “It’s a great relief. Small communities like ours really have little chance of raising that kind of money on their own. It’s the main building in the centre of the village. It’s at the heart of the community, really.  This gets us a lot closer to our vision of a church to which all parts of the community feel a common connection and are delighted to be engaged with.”

The project will focus on repairing damage to the south chapel, north chapel, chancel, round tower and north porch, as well as a complete scheme of new ground drainage around the perimeter.

The church has stood at the heart of the village for nearly a thousand years and is a focal point for the community. It contains a rare, narrow double hammer-beam roof with carved wooden angels and a number of ornate monuments to a local family – the Kemps – who were once lords of the manor in Gissing.

Extracts of this article have been taken from the Diss Express.  Read more of this story from the Diss Express.

© Copyright Phil Davies and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

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