The Upper Tas Valley All Saints PCC, in South Norfolk, has received inital support* from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the Forncett St. Mary Church - Save our Saxon Tower project, it was announced today.
Made possible by National Lottery players, the project aims to carry out urgent work to repair the oldest part of the Grade 1 listed church, the Saxon tower, and preserve it for generations to come. Development funding of £25,000 has been awarded by HLF to help the PCC progress their plans and apply for a full grant at a later date.
St Mary’s is mentioned in the Domesday Book and there has been a church on the site since the 10th Century.
Ten years ago the church, having been made redundant in 1985 was in very poor condition, and it had become difficult to access, surrounded by high blackthorn. Through the dedication of local people and supporters of the church, restoration work began with clearing and cleaning. In 2012 English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund offered grants which allowed repairs to be undertaken to enable the church to come out of redundancy and be used by the community again for events as well as church services.
This next project, made possible thanks again to the Heritage Lottery Fund, aims to finish the main structural repairs to the tower and porch, conserving the unique heritage of the building. The development of a website, interpretation boards and guide books and links with the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and local schools will enable visitors to better understand and engage with the architecture and history of the church and the biodiversity of the surrounding area for the greater enjoyment of all.
Commenting on the award, Graham Prior, Chairman of the Friends of Forncett St. Mary Church, said “We are delighted to receive this National Lottery grant and acknowledge that without this support it would not be possible to work towards saving this wonderful building.
It is a valuable asset for future generations, both as a church and community resource.”