Himalayan Balsam - an invasive plant

Written by Brian Frith.

Himalayan Balsam - a special request from the 'Norfolk Non-Native Species Initiative'

This article is taken from the recent Norfolk Association of Local Councils update, via Forncett Clerk Anne Rayner

In Norfolk there are several Invasive Non-Native Species which pose a threat to our unique ecosystems and wildlife. One of the main “culprits” is Himalayan Balsam. This plant, which is native to India was introduced to the UK in 1839. It spreads through exploding seed pods and as it grows to more than 3 metres tall, it shades out most native plants where it is growing. The plant usually grows along watercourses and as it dies back in the winter, this leaves bare soil which is then vulnerable to erosion, causing bankside instability and adding sediment to the water. This can have a knock on effect on aquatic plants and may prevent some fish from being able to breed successfully. Studies have also shown that bees prefer this plant and when it is growing in an area, native plants may not be pollinated as a result of bees ignoring them to favour the Himalayan balsam.

The plant can be identified from its pink to white flowers, tall stalks with red stemmed leaves and cocoon shaped seed pods.

At Norfolk Non-Native Species Initiative we are trying to map the plants spread across the county, as once we know where it currently is, we are going to take action to stop it in its tracks with the aim of eventually eradicating it. This is the best time of year to spot the plant, when it is at its tallest and flowing. If you think you have seen it growing in your area, please take a photograph (if it is safe to do so) and send this along with the location to 

Summer BBQ event

Written by Brian Frith.

Saturday July 1st 2023 was the date for our annual summer BBQ with Bar, Teas and Cakes, Stalls and Music

Stalls from WI, Friends of St Peters (who also provided the 'tea and cakes'), History Group, Wreningham Church and wood-worker Sarah.

Along with a few games, the whole event provided fundraising opportunities for several different groups.

Thanks to Dick and Sandy Barnes for permission to use their meadow behind St Mary's Church for parking and to everyone who helped set up the site, ensure everything went to plan and clear away at the end.

Photos taken by Phil Whiscombe (unless otherwise indicated) and reproduced here with his permission

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Advertising poster

Coronation Tree Planting Event

Written by Brian Frith.

On Sunday May 7th 2023, an event was organised to mark the Coronation of King Charles III. 

With the help of a grant from South Norfolk Council, a tree was bought and planted on 'Jubilee Green' at the Village Hall, followed by 'tea and cakes' in the Hall.  About 60 people attended.  Thanks to Tree Warden, Robert Hosea, for sourcing and preliminary planting of the tree, to Bev and Keith Humphreys for 'doing the honours' and 'Friends of St Peters' for supplying the majority of the cakes (including the celebration 'Coronation Cake' - and all others who helped in any way. 

Photos taken by Phil Whiscombe (unless otherwise indicated) and reproduced here with his permission

If you have photos of other events and would like them added to the slideshow, please contact me at 

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The plaque commemorating the event

Electricity Pylons are coming through Forncett unless we say ‘NO’

Written by Martin Starkie, Ally Rae.

National Grid is planning to put elecricity pylons 50m high through Forncett as it links off-shore power generation to London.

Pylons Poster sm

You can stop them:

  • Share, share, share!
    • Put up banners or posters - get them here
    • Make a noise on social media
  • Write to your MP:
    • Email:
    • Postal address: Pretoria House
      Ipswich Road
      Norfolk NR15 2TA


Forncett Platinum Jubilee Celebrations June 2022

Written by Brian Frith.

 A selection of images from HM Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee celebrations in Forncett - June 2022 

Most photos taken by Phil Whiscombe and reproduced here with his permission

Apologies that it has taken so long to get the photos together and work out how put them into the 'slideshow' format!

Much has happened since early June - we were worried about rain (in fact many local celebrations scheduled for Sunday 5th June were called off).  Little did we know how the summer would turn out with its record breaking high temperatures and drought conditions.

Queen Elizabeth II was able to play some part in her Platinum Jubilee Celebrations, but sadly she died on 8th September, and was succeeded by her son King Charles III.  Hopefuly this collection of images from Forncett will bring back happy memories of a joyful time of celebration of a long reign and a life devoted to service to our Country and the Commonwealth.

If you have photos of other events and would like them added to the slideshow, please contact me at 

Click the image below for the slideshow: Photos, with thanks, by Phil Whiscombe, unless otherwise indicated  

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Progress Report

Written by Ally Rae.

2023.9.12 Interpretive path

What's been happening with our project?

September 2023  

BBQ: 12 August saw our successful barbeque which raised £361 for Friends of St Peter's and £100 towards the running of the church.

National Heritage Lottery Fund: The FoSP Steering Group has been meeting regularly to put together the information needed for our next grant application for the delivery phase of the project. We will be meeting with the Lottery case officers in November with a view to submitting our application in February, hoping to raise around £600,000.

Conservation Area: Many thanks to the team of volunteers who braved the heat to cut and clear the conservation area at the back of the church. Making the curchyard a rich and diverse area for wildlife is a key aim for the future.

Interpretive Path: Eagle-eyed visitors might have spotted the fledgling interpretive path which is being developed to give future visitor information about the interesting aspects of the churchyard.

 July 2023  

Community Consultation: An evening of conversation and consultation on 11 July allowed the community to hear how the project is developing and to discuss plans for community activities. Our film-makers outlined their ideas for the 'Forncett Village of Stories' film with it's rook guide (inspired by poet Philip Larkins' quote).  Many other ideas were aired led by our consultant Saul Penfold.

Bloomin' Jars: a Festival of Flowers, 15-16 July, was very successful with many members of the community contributing jars of delightful flowers and a steady stream of visitors.  The church looked beautiful.  Thanks to everyone who helped in every way.

Review meeting with the Heritage Fund: our second review meeting with our Case Officer and HF Consultant took place on 25 July, allowing us to provide an update on our progress and clarify the Delivery Phase application process.

May 2023   Detailed structural investigations, concentrating on the Nave and Aisles, took place from 2-5 May.  This is most of the work funded by our Heritage Fund Development Grant.  A specialist builder, structural engineer and ecologist were all involved alongside our Project Architect. They revealed a very large amount of work needed to the roofs and masonary in particular. Good news - the majority of the findings were as expected from previos assessments with no new shocks.
April 2023   Our first review meeting with our NLHF Case Officers was completed when they visited St Peter's on 19 April, seeing the church for themselves for the first time. Our Project Architect also undertook the Quninquennial Report - noting the condition of the building and how it has changed since the last report in 2018.  It was that very worrying report which resulted in the formation of the Friends of St Peter's to launch the campaign ro save the building.
March 2023   'Permission to Start' our project has been recieved from the Heritage Fund. Specialist contractors have been appointed for the structural investigations.
February 2023   A new mural has transformed the unsightly hoarding around the scaffolding in the Chancel, thanks to work of local artist and volunteer Gill Starkie and children at St Peter's Primary School.  Find out more here
January 2023  

National Lottery Heritage Fund: What a way to start the New Year!  We are able to announce the success of the first stage of our grant application to The National Lottery Heritage Fund.  We have been awarded £33,274, roughly 70% of the funds needed for the development phase of our project. We are tremendously grateful to the Heritage Fund and to players of the National Lottery for making detailed investigations of the building, costed specifications of the repairs and planning a programme of community activities possible. Find out more here

We are also delighted to announce a grant of £3,000 from The Round Tower Churches Society - a vital part of a partnership funding for our Development Phase.  Thank You!

Terry Hickman Smith took over the role of Project Manager.  Mary Yule, who had filled this demanding role for a year, was very warmly thanked for her hard work.  Mary remains on the Project Steering Group as Advisor to the Project Manager.

December 2022   Our Christmas Market was a great success.  Not only did it raise a wonderful £900, it was a lovely community event, bringing people together in the run-up to the big day.  Special thanks go to our bakers who worked so hard creating cakes, puddings and too many other things to mention. The Service of Lessons and Carols in St Peter's on Christmas Eve saw St Peter's almost full to the brim and generous donations towards the running costs of the building (electricity, insurance, alarms, etc.)



  Thanks to everyone who helped with our fund-raising events this month.  The Monthly Market brought in £334 and our Quiz and Chilli night was a sell out raising a very impressive £470.
October 2022  

St Peter's is now open again with an impressive forest of scaffolding on display in the chancel, supporting the roof.  Visitors are very welcome 10am - 4pm.  Services are also re-starting - details here.  It's likely that the scaffolding will be in place for at least two years until a full repair is done as part of our major restoration project

On 18th October our AGM included a talk by Ruth Blackman, our Project Architect, on her work.


September 2022


The scaffolding needed to support the chancel roof has now been installed and St Peter's will open again once thoroughly cleaned and given the all-clear.  It is likely to remain in place for at least two years, until our major restoration project can deliver a permanent solution.

Sadly some events planned for September had to be cancelled or curtailed owing to the church being closed and to the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

St Peter's opened as part of Heritage Open Days providing guided tours of the outside of the building.

August 2022   Our application for Development Phase funding to the National Lottery Heritage Fund has been submitted!  If successful this will provide 79% of the money needed to prepare detailed information for the next stage of our application - the Delivery Phase - in December 2023. The current application covers the remaining structural investigations of the building and planning of the community activities programme critical to our success. Thanks to the Steering Group, Architect and Consultant who worked so hard to get the complex application in on time.
July 2022  

St Peter's remains closed awaiting propping of the Chancel roof.

A splendid FoSP Barbeque raised over £400. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard and those who supported it.

June 2022   On 7 June a full assessment and costing was made of the temporary measures which can be taken to install scaffolding to prop the chancel roof until full repairs can be undertaken - hopefully when we get a NLHF grant.  It is anticipated that scaffolding can be in place for August.
May 2022  

Very sadly the church has had to be closed to vistors and services for the time being.  The serious problem with the chancel roof, identified during detailed investigations in October, has led to a recommendation to provide temporary propping until a full repair can be undertaken.  Until this can be installed the church is likely to remain closed. 

Our NLHF Case Officer, Rachel MacFarlane, visited the church with a colleague to look at the building in detail and discuss with the Steering Group how to make our application as compelling as possible.  Our Heritage Consultant, Saul Penfold, is meeting with various community groups to explore how activities can be designed to provide maximum benefit to the community.  John Mitchell, Emeritus Professor in the Department of Art History and World Art Studies, University of East Anglia, came to examine our pew carvings - they are a combination of medieval carving and Victorian restoration.

March 2022  

A representative from Historic England joined our Architect and Project Manager at St Peter's to confirm the repairs which will be needed to take the church off the Heritage at Risk Register.  This outcome is an important goal for the NLHF.

A new Project Steering Group has been formed lead by our Project Manager, Mary Yule, and including our Architect Ruth Blackman and Consultant Saul Penfold.  This group will be responsible for ensuring all the work needed for our NLHF application is done on time and, if successful, see the work through to completion. The FOSP Committee will continue to meet to manage all other aspects of the Save St Peter's campaign, including other fund raising.

Our monthly Saturday Markets restarted, raising a splendid £285, while our fabulous Cheese and Wine Party on 12 March, perfectly hosted by Sandy Barnes, raised £475.

February 2022   Success!  Our NLHF Expression of Interest was accepted meaning we can move forward with a full application for £409,000.  We hope to submit this in August.  ‘Forncett – A Village of Stories’ is the theme we will be developing. Alongside the case for the essential repairs we must develop a programme of activities which will help everyone to understand and enjoy the heritage and environment of St Peter’s.  Saul Penfold, our consultant, has been vital in helping us get this far and will now be working with us to develop our bid.  And we’ll be involving the village as much as we can.  This church is for us all.
December 2021  

£33,618 was spent on the specialist investigations, reports and essential repairs, paid for primarily from our Culture Recovery Fund Grant.  The work gave detailed costings totalling £465,000 needed to get St Peter's off the Heritage at Risk Register.  An additional serious problem with the chancel roof came to light which was not previously known and may need urgent action in the coming year.

National Lottery Heritage Fund Grant: Our new Expression of Interest - the first stage of applying for a National Lottery Heritage Fund Grant - was submitted shortly before Christmas, with the help of our consultant, Saul Penfold. This outlines what we need, why we need it and what we will be able to do once we get a grant, including a range of community activities.  We should hear if we have been successful in February, after which we can develop a full application.

A very successful Christmas Market, sales of Christmas food, cards designed by local people, Fabulous Forncett 2022 calendars and a raffle raised over £1,000 - thanks to everyone!

October 2021  

Detailed investigations by our architect and a team of specialists looked at the roof and masonary especially of the Chance, among other things to give us an accurate costing of the essential work needed to get St Peter's off the 'Heritage at Risk' Register.  Wild Ecology monitored the work to see that no bats were disturbed.  The work meant that the slipped slates which had been letting rain in were resecured. Sadly as soon as some are fixed corroded roof nails mean others slip.

Our AGM on 20 October gave us the opportunity to update Friends on our progress and fund-raising to date - over £16,000 from fund-raising and donations and £27,500 in grants.  Thanks to everyone who has helped in so many ways.  We still have a long way to go, but it's going in the right direction!

Sept 2021  

Community Groups Consultation. Representatives of many of the groups & organisations locally joined in discussions led by Saul Penfold, our consultant.  As we develop a programme of activities to encourage more people to enjoy the heritage and natural environment at St Peter’s as part of our NLHF grant application we want to make sure they support our community. More discussions to follow.

St Peter's opened for the first time as part of Heritage Open Days

August 2021  

St Peter's is now open to visitors every day 10.00-16.00.  Huge thanks to our opening and closing team.

Our programme of structural investigations is delayed until October - the end of the bat maternity season.

A busy programme of events has been very well supported, raising over £950 - thanks to everyone who worked so hard and all of you who came and enjoyed 3 great days.

A series of grass-cutting parties in the churchyard is helping to maintain a wildlife friendly space.

July 2021  

St Peter's is open to visitors on Sundays and Wednesdays 10.00-16.00

There is a new information panel explaining what the problems are and how you can help, with a changing display of St Peter's related art.

National Lottery Grant: We’ve started to work with a consultant to help us with the next vital steps of our application. Saul Penfold is a specialist in Heritage Learning, Interpretation and Fundraising. Professional help like this is what we need just now.


June 2021


Bat surveys by Wild Frontier Ecology reveal 4 species of bats flying inside the church, and exiting from several areas of the building, suggesting a number of roost sites. This will mean a delay to some of our plans, as our intrusive structural surveys mustn't disturb them.


May 2021


First stage of detailed investigations begin: Wall Paintings Conservator, Dr Andrea Kirkham, removes small areas of whitewash to check for traces of wall paintings - none are revealed.  The remaining loose plaster on the Nave wall is removed and secured. 

Drake's Tomb is given temporary protection in case plaster fragments fall on to it. The church can re-open after deep cleaning timed for the relaxation of Covid regulations around 19 July.


Result of our Expression of Interest to the NLHF: due to impact of Covid on NLHF finances we are recommended to re-submit basing our project on the repairs needed to remove St Peter's from the 'Heritage at Risk Register' and including work to extend peoples' understanding of the importance and value of the church and it's nature-rich churchyard. Plans for a kitchen & toilets to create a community hub will need to wait for a second phase.


April 2021


Initial survey for the presence of bats will be followed by detailed surveys once they are out of hibernation.


March 2021


Expression of Interest submitted to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a grant of £850,000. We will need to raise the other £100,000 ouselves.


January 2021


Wonderful news! We have recieved a £24,000 grant from the Government's Culture Recovery Fund, administered by Historic England.  This will go a long way to paying for the specialist investigations we need.


December 2020


Plaster fragments from the damaged wall are being examined by a conservation specialist to see if there are any traces of wall paintings hidden by the layers of whitewash


Repairs to the plaster work delayed by the need to fund-raise to cover the costs and further Covid lockdowns preventing access.


The church remains closed.


October 2020


Headly Trust awards a grant of £3,500 towards weather-proofing repairs


Facebook and Just Giving campaigns go live.


August 2020


Application made to Heritage England ‘Covid-19 Heritage at Risk Emergency Fund’ for £24,000, decision expected soon.


A bat survey in the churchyard identifies 7 bat species using the space.


June 2020


Church remains closed until plasterwork can be assessed and stabilized and Covid 19 restrictions eased


NLHF Grant Expression of Interest delayed due to NLHF giving priority to Corona virus related emergency projects


Enabling Works identified; Project Architect received quotes from specialists and experts for the investigative stage of the project


May 2020


Planning continues with Project Schedule, grant applications and developing a publicity campaign despite Corona Virus lockdown


March 2020


Application made to the Headley Trust for £7,000.  Decision expected October


Church closed and all fund-raising events postponed due to Corona Virus


Project Architect appointed: Ruth Blackman of Birdsall, Swash and Blackman Ltd


February 2020


Large area of plaster falls off the inside of the nave wall; church closed awaiting analysis and stabilisation.


January 2020


Diocesan Advisory Committee team visit St Peter’s to discuss proposed works and contractor access


December 2019


Essential work to deal with worst penetration by rain water is completed.


November 2019


Norfolk Churches Trust awards grant of £1,000 to St Peter's for urgent repairs


 October 2019


Friends of St Peter’s Church is inaugurated.
£1,125 raised as a result of the first meeting

July 2019   Following a visit by Historic England St Peter's is placed on the Heritage at Risk Register
January 2018   The Quinquennial Report stresses the very serious condition of the church fabric and the urgency of major repair work.  The new churchwarden and the PCC initiate action.

St Mary an Eco Church

Written by Administrator.

St Mary’s has registered for a project called ‘Eco Church’ – its purpose is to help as many churches as possible celebrate what they are doing to care for the environment.  At the moment we have a Bronze Award for Buildings, a Silver Award for Land, Silver for Community and Global engagement, and Silver for Lifestyle. The church has met some of the criteria due to factors such as leaving a large section of the churchyard for ‘wild’ growing, and having trees planted. There is also a bio toilet, and we are in the process of putting up bat and bird nesting boxes. As we continue to be able to give positive answers to more of the questions we hope to increase those awards to the next level.

Copies of the church guide/history book written by Roy Tricker are available for £3 – contact

eco church

Jo and Raptor OR Joy and Rapture

Written by Terry Hickman Smith (as published in the Forncett Flyer November 2020).

On one of my morning walks with Nutmeg four or five weeks ago I came across a wounded kestrel at the bottom of the Sewage works footpath. It had a badly damaged right eye, it couldn’t fly and its only defence was digging its very sharp talons into my fingers.

I wasn’t sure how to deal with a wild bird in this state. After a couple of attempt to pick it up – including the bloody fingers – I tried putting my handkerchief over its eyes which calmed it enough for me to hold it. It didn’t really struggle for the whole way home but looked in a really bad way.


Via the Norfolk Wildlife Trust who recommended a lovely man who said he couldn’t do anything for the bird but put me in touch with a raptor rescue specialist called Jo. Jo runs the Phoenix Bird of Prey Rescue and came over to look at my female kestrel that afternoon. She took one look at it and pronounced that there was nothing she could do. The poor bird apparently had something that sounded to my deaf ears like Trowse Trichosis. I later found out it is actually called Frounce Trichomoniasis – a horrible virus endemic in pigeons who are not affected by it. It is thought, after much research, that where pigeons drink they leave a trace of the virus and if a raptor drinks soon after the raptor can catch it. In raptors it leads to blindness, damaged hearing, weakness, digestive problems and death. Great disappointment.

However the lovely Jo said she would try. There might be a small chance that a course of anti-biotics might help alongside intensive care and careful feeding. She took the female kestrel away and I thought that would be the last I would see of her.

About two weeks Later Jo phoned to say that, against all expectations, our kestrel was responding to treatment and was getting stronger. This week (last week in October) Jo rang again with the amazing news that she (the kestrel that is) was ready for release. Today, 29th October Jo brought her here and we released her by the bridge where I found her. It is Jo’s policy to release the birds she rescues from the place where it was found – seems eminently sensible. After a bit of a struggle to get out of the box she flew off in a big arc and landed in a tree by the footpath. Apparently that was a good release. She looked strong and happy to be flying again. Pity it was raining but preferable to release in rain than keep too long in captivity.

The big lesson to me was to have acted quickly. Another few hours may have triggered a less happy outcome. If you find yourself in similar circumstances please do act quickly.

Jo at Phoenix can be contacted on 07914 661385 and her website is www.phoenixbirdofpreyrescue.org.