Progress Report

2023.9.12 Interpretive path

What's been happening with our project?

June 2024  

Great news from the Garfield Weston Foundation! They have awarded us a grant of £2000 in partnership funding for our restoration project.  Thank you so much.

The Village BBQ went with a swing, FoSP providing a wonderful selection of cakes and hot drinks in the village hall and our stall offering an array of things for sale, as well as information about the campaign.  We raised nearly £300.  Thanks to everyone who helped and supported the event.  Our bakers and the Events Team did a great job.

May 2024   A final step in our National Heritage Lottery Fund application was a site visit by the Chair of the Heritage Fund and two members of the committee who will be making the decision along with our Case Officer.  Key members of the Project Steering Group highlighted critical repairs needed and answered questions.  Now we have to wait for the result!  
April 2024   Members of the Steering Group met with staff from Norfolk Wildlife Trust to look at the churchyard and start a plant survey.  If our Heritage Fund grant application is successful NWT will be a partner organisation for one of our activities 'Four Seasons in a Country Churchyard' along with Forncett Nature Matters, our village Nature Group.  
March 2024    What a great night! Quiz and Cottage Pie was good fun and raised over £600! Thanks to our cooks for delicious variations on the traditional pie, Terry and April who set the questions and everyone who came and enjoyed it.  
February 2024   National Lottery Heritage Fund: Our application for our Delivery Phase grant went in at the end of the month. Thanks to the hard work of the Project Steering Group, the complex paperwork applying for over £500,000 for essential repairs needed to remove St Peter's from the Heritage at Risk Register was brought together on time. If successful we will also work with a number of partner organisations to delivery an exciting programme of community activities to make St Peter's somewhere everyone can enjoy. We should hear the results  in May / June.  
January 2024  

More partnership funding, this time £1000 from the Bishop of Norfolk's Fabric Fund - thank you so much!

Our Winter Warmer lunch on 7 January went really well thanks to everyone who helped and came along.

December 2023  

A very busy month!  Our Sparkly Jars event was well supported with many members of the community bringing beautiful and inventive displays, despite very dreary weather.  The Christmas Market was a great success thanks to our skilled and energetic bakers and the Events Team.  £1063 was raised and it was a warm and friendly community eventual 

National Lottery Heritage Fund: a crucial meeting took place with our Project Steering Group and Heritage Fund Case Officers, looking in detail at the good draft of our application.  They gave us the go-ahead to develop the final application due in in February - great news!

We have also received a grant of £3000 from the Round Tower Churches Society - partnership funding for the Delivery Phase of our project. We are tremendously grateful for this recognition of the importance of St Peter's, on top of their previous Development Phase grant.  The society also provided a talk on round tower churches in St Peter's last September for free, enabling us to raise further funds.

November 2023   We are really grateful to Norfolk Churches Trust for their grant of £6,000 towards our restoration project. This is a vital part of the Partnership Funding we need to have in support of our major National Lottery Heritage Fund grant application.  
October 2023   The Friends AGM on 17 October saw us refreshing the FOSP Committee and the Project Steering Group, following the retirement of Mary Yule and Ally Rae due to changes in their personal circumstances.  They have both been heavily involved since the FoSP foundation. Mike Merrick, Peter Schmidt-Hansen, Nigel Youngman and Trish Fuller have all joined, bringing their own unique skills and experience. The AGM was well attended and made really engaging by a fascinating talk by Mike Merrick 'Forncett St Peter's: A Church of Stories'.  
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 Chancel, 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.  
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