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Good news on saving Norfolk's historic churches 

Progress in preserving Norfolk’s treasured churches has been made in the latest Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register with 18 being taken off, but nine have also been added. Keith Morris reports.

The annual snapshot of the health of the historic environment, reveals that 39 sites across the East of England were added this year due to concerns about their condition, while 53 have been removed - bringing the total on the register to 393.

Simon Buteux, Principal Adviser, Heritage at Risk said: “The biggest success was for listed places of worship, with 32 entries coming off the Register (17 additions). Almost all these removals were made possible with the help of grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“More than half of the churches are in Norfolk, noted for its many fine medieval churches reflecting a former wealth based on agriculture. Today, economic circumstances have changed and congregations have dwindled, and the challenge to maintain these much-valued places in good repair is urgent.”

The areas of Norfolk with the most churches currently on the at risk register are South Norfolk (11) and Breckland (10).
Scilla Latham, secretary of the Norfolk Churches Trust, told the EDP that the preservation of medieval church buildings across Norfolk was “paramount” and they are an important part of the county’s heritage.

“Norfolk has the greatest concentration of medieval churches in the world and there is no reason it should not become a world heritage site.

“The churches hold so many records of the history of the county and chart the history of the area. We need to preserve them as a record of this history,” she said.

Notable Norfolk sites removed

  • West Acre Priory - repairs and consolidation work completed.
  • Grade II* Church of SS Peter & Paul, Honing - repair work nearing completion.
  • Grade I Church of St Andrew, East Lexham - late Saxon round tower has now been repaired and conserved.
  • Grade I Church of St Mary, Church Hill, Reepham - tower has recently been repaired and adjacent roofs recovered.
  • Grade I Church of St Edmund, Old Costessey - the nave and chancel roofs have been re-covered.

BixleyChurchCRHistoricEngland6Some of the churches added to the list in South Norfolk

  • Church of St Wandregelius, Bixley (Grade II listed) – a disused parish church with an early C14 tower. The church was badly damaged by a fire in 2004 which destroyed the roof and interior. A repair scheme has been discussed but not implemented. Condition: Very bad.
  • Church of St Mary, Low Road, Forncett (Grade I listed) ­- C13 and C15 church, tower with Saxon fabric. Declared redundant in 1985 and fell into very poor condition throughout, but has subsequently been returned to use for worship and community activities, winning a Heritage Angels Awards in 2015. Masonry and roofs of the tower and north porch remain in poor condition and are currently the subject of a further application. Condition: Very bad.
  • Church of St Margaret, Church Hill, Starston (Grade I listed) - Church dating from C14-15 with C19 restoration. Extensive rain and ground water penetration due to poor roof coverings, rainwater goods, ground drainage and open joints in facework. Condition: Very bad.

Download the Heritage At Risk Register 2017 for the East of England.
Pictured top is the repaired St Mary's in Reepham (picture courtesy of www.norfolkchurches.co.uk) and, above, the at risk church of St Wandregelius, Bixley (picture courtesy of Historic England).

Read more at EDP24

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