‘Essential’ repairs can now be carried out at a Grade 1 listed south Norfolk Church after it received a grant of £229,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The Paraochial Church Council (PCC) in Banham says the grant, for the restoration of St Mary’s Church in the village, will also fund a “diverse range” of inclusive heritage activities to encourage “maximum use” of the 14th Century building.
In addition, improvements to the drainage and guttering will ensure the church is kept damp-free, and easier to maintain.
Repairs include “urgent work” to the east window, the leadwork on the roof and spire, and to cracks in the walls of the south aisle and the tower.
Priest-in-charge, the Rev Canon Stephen Wright, said: “This grant funding is what makes our repair goals achievable, building on a huge amount of on-going volunteer effort in fund-raising to fill the remaining gap of over £20,000.
“Our grateful thanks to all those who have contributed generously of their time and money for this beautiful building.
“We pray for continuing positive contribution from it to our village life for the century ahead.”
PCC Trustee and Project Manager, Anita Bounds, added: “The Heritage Lottery grant represents the majority of the total amount needed.
“It is an incredible achievement for Banham and has been a huge help already in attracting essential match-funding from the Norfolk Churches Trust (£1,000), Banham Parish Council (£1,000), the Six Villages Newsletter (£1,053) and the Friends of Banham Church (£2,720) and ChurchCare (£1,200).”
In July last year, a grant was provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund to the PCC, allowing them to draw up plans for the restoration project.
A spokesperson for the PCC said the development phase had been concluded, meaning two elements of the project,both the repairs and the heritage programme, can get underway.
The building already hosts a number of events — such as film nights, Saturday Café, Messy Church, Open Door, and a Youth Café.
It will also be boosted by the installation of a new permanent projector, screen and sound system this autumn.
One of the upcoming highlights in the church calendar is their third heritage activity on October 8, from 10am to noon, with café and Macmillan produce stall, as well as a stone masonry exhibition and interactive bell ringing activity.
There will also be an interactive talk in the evening, ‘The Music of Bells’ by Simon Rudd from St Peter Mancroft church, which starts at 7.30pm, followed by refreshments.