Progress Report

Written by Ally Rae.

What's been happening with our project?

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.

     
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.

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 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.  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