Gresham church funding to become community hub
Plans to turn a round-towered church in north Norfolk into a community hub can now go-ahead, thanks to a £140,900 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The funding will enable the Friends of All Saints Gresham to carry out urgent works of repair and improvement to the church buildings, and the money will widen the use and enjoyment of the buildings and facilities to create an active community hub and heritage resource.
Three years ago, a church architect’s report revealed that the church building was in a poor state of repair. To preserve All Saints Church Gresham for future generations of villagers and visitors to enjoy and use, it needed, in the near future:
A completely new rainwater dispersal system, including a new surface water drainage system.
All roofs repaired and the north slope of the chancel roof completely re-tiled
All external walls repaired
Work on the tower roof and interior.
Some windows re-leaded and repaired.
Nave and porch internal walls re-rendered and re-lime-washed.
Some floor repair
Other work was recommended, including internal conservation and improving the churchyard.
The Parochial Church Council was aware that a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund would be successful only if the village supported the project by raising some funds towards the cost. So, the Friends group was revived, and an extensive schedule of fund-raising events took place, now supplemented by almost £141,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Work is expected to start in the spring and take six months to complete.
The improved building will be developed as a community hub, through a programme of events to make sure that as many people as possible can appreciate, understand and enjoy the heritage of All Saints Gresham.
The programme of events will include the creation of an online data resource for those tracing their family history, using information from the historic graveyard. There will be a children's guide to the church, produced by pupils from Gresham Village School, and a series of lectures on local history focussing on areas connected with the heritage of the church and a programme of mixed arts courses for those who are sometimes overlooked in society. The churchyard will also be used by the school as an outdoor classroom and the church will be available as a concert and exhibition space for the community.
All Saints church, which sits at a crossroads midway between the two parts of the village, probably dates back 1,000 years to Saxon times, hence the iconic round tower. It is clear that the church was substantially added to during the great Norfolk church building period of the 14th/15th centuries. A notable feature inside is the seven-sacrament font.
The earliest image of the church, right, is a sketch by the renowned artist John Sell Cotman, made about 1818 as part of a series on Norfolk churches, courtesy of Friends of All Saints Gresham.
The top image is courtesy of Simon Knott’s Churches of Norfolk website.
This story is based on an article from Eastern Daily Press, with additional material from the Friends of All Saints Gresham website.
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