The future of two decaying 15th century south Norfolk churches has been secured for generations to come, after they both received vital heritage grants of more than £200,000.
St John the Baptist Church in Bressingham and St Mary the Virgin Church in Denton have been awarded £220,500 and £223,000, respectively, by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), to help address a vast set of issues affecting both churches.
Both buildings were placed on Historic England’s ‘at risk’ register in 2015 due to years of deterioration, and their teams have since worked to gather funds for a range of urgently-needed fixes.
In Bressingham, ground work commences in May, while the main structural repairs are expected to begin in the following months.
Linda Holly, associate member of the Church of St John and the HLF project leader, said: “It’s a magnificent building that really does need to be preserved. It’s quite a landmark in the village.
“I think sometimes these old buildings are taken for granted. This is all about getting people to engage in heritage and realise these buildings do have a life and a future.”
As part of the HLF project, a series of heritage activities will take place alongside the work, which starts with a walk and talk by Professor Tom Williamson, setting off from the village hall, on April 22.
There will also be a medieval graffiti project in the church, involving Bressingham Primary School pupils, and a church ale weekend from August 5 to 6, featuring a re-enactment team.
Diana Burroughes, church warden and treasurer for the Bressingham parish, added: “I am thrilled the National Lottery is supporting our quest to preserve this beautiful church for future generations.
“We are very lucky to have a great team and rector. I am full of praise for all they have done for us.”
In Denton, the grant will help pay for extensive internal works, including the full replacement of timbers, pews and floorboards, and new pipework, guttering and drainage outside.
To celebrate the Church of St Mary’s place in the history of Denton, there will also be various community events in 2017 and 2018, starting with an angel festival in December.
The Rev Chris Hutton, Rector of Denton, said: “St Mary’s Church has been, and still is, a place of worship and a huge part of the Denton community for centuries.
“This work will ensure the external integrity of the building for years to come.
“I am particularly pleased not just to see the physical refurbishment work taking place on site, but also the emphasis placed on the community aspect of the development.”