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Jubilation as historic church in Stuston wins £190,000 for restoration work

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All Saints Church in Stuston has received almost £120,000 for restoration work. Picture: Mecha Morton.. (11818832)
All Saints Church in Stuston has received almost £120,000 for restoration work. Picture: Mecha Morton.. (11818832)

A village community is celebrating after winning a grant of almost £190,000 to restore its historic church.

Stuston Parochial Church Council has been given the green-light for work to commence on All Saints’ Church after a successful bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Restoration work has now started, which includes making the church watertight, repairing the round tower and installing heating and new flooring. A further £30,000 is still needed, however, to complete the work in full.

Mentioned in the Domesday Book, sections of the present All Saints’ Church date back to the 15th century, with additions by British architect Thomas Jekyll in 1861.

The years have taken their toll, however, on the building’s roof and round tower.

Following a bid by the parish church council, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) agreed to initial funding of £21,200 to investigate the extent of the work needed. This was carried out between February and June last year.

Following an anxious wait, the church council, working with the rector Adrian Watkins, heard the news they had been hoping for at Christmas.

“We were confident in our bid but, towards the end of last year, we had a letter warning us that Lottery grants weren’t so readily available as they used to be,” said project manager Roger Greenacre.

“I believe only around 50 per cent of projects that received initial funding during 2018 went on to receive a full grant, so it was an anxious time. Lottery funds are harder to come by because of competition from other lotteries, such as the Post Code lottery, and so we have a lot to thank National Lottery players for.

“Apart from being a beautiful and historic church, our bid was aided by our plans to use it as a community resource.

“We have very few amenities in Stuston, so, after conversations with the parish meeting, which replaced the parish council, and its social committee, we submitted ideas for how it could be used by the community, including as a youth club, a venue for arts and music, mother and toddler groups and coffee mornings, for example.”

The church council is hoping the whole project will be complete by the end of the year. Full restoration work still needs another £30,000, so fundraising will continue.

Architect Ruth Blackman, of Birdsall, Swash and Blackman, has been overseeing the project.

Roger Lay, one of the fundraisers, said: “Apart from being extremely knowledgeable in all matters relating to church architecture, Ruth’s enthusiasm and experience has been instrumental in our successful bid for funding.”

On June 22, the Bishop of Dunwich, the Rt Rev Mike Harrison, who also supported the project by writing to the HLF, will be visiting the site and meeting parishioners.

“We’re hoping for a big turnout and hope people will come to celebrate with us now that work is getting under way,” said Mr Greenacre.

“As it progresses, we are also hoping to open the church for schools and groups to learn about the skilled workmanship involved in restoring such a historic building.”

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