An introduction to the Norfolk Churches Trust
‘The Norfolk Churches Trust exists for the advancement of religion to preserve, repair, maintain, improve, beautify and reconstruct churches or chapels of any Christian denomination in the county or Diocese of Norwich.’
Scilla Latham, Secretary, writes:
“The Trust is committed to keeping churches in the county open as places of worship. It offers grants, advice and support to PCCs, and works closely with church architects to ensure help is provided where it is most needed. To fund this, the Trust organises a busy schedule of fund-raising events throughout the year, the proceeds of which go towards grants for churches. The annual subscriptions from the Friends of the Trust, make a vital contribution to funding repairs: of the 1407 Friends of the Trust, 443 are PCCs.
“Grants are generally for repairs identified in Quinquennial Inspection Reports (QIR) but can also be for damage subsequently discovered, or as a result of lead theft. In the case of a QIR indicating serious problems, or the church being added to the Heritage At Risk Register, the Secretary of the Trust will make contact to offer support and advice on applying for a grant. Otherwise parishes are encouraged to contact the Trust office direct for advice and church architects ask the Trust to contact a PCC that is struggling with getting repairs underway.
“Requests for grants for repairs to roofs and structural failure to the fabric of the building, as well as for rainwater goods and drainage, make up the majority of applications (and greatest percentage of the funds available). In addition however the Trust offers grants for repair and conservation of windows, floors, internal plastering, wall paintings, electrical switchgear, and essential investigative work necessary prior to repairs.
“Equally important is the advice and support available to churches across the county, which is ‘only a phone call away’. Straightforward queries can frequently be successfully dealt with over the phone, but for more complicated enquiries the best option is often a meeting with the PCC. The Secretary, Scilla Latham, has the time and expertise to advise on a wide range of issues including the most appropriate grants for the repair in question, writing funding applications, maintenance plans, project management, advice on Statements of Significance and Need, and where to find information online.
“The news that your church is on the Heritage At Risk Register can seem devastating but it is not a reflection on your ‘housekeeping’, it may be a result of poor repairs decades ago, or an insidious problem such as subsidence. Inheriting fabric repairs is not a recent development as the inscription in All Saints, Carlton Rode of 1634 makes clear:
This church was built in it God to adore And ought to have been repaired long before. By which neglect we did great sums expend Then let successors look in time to mend For if Decays they early don’t prevent They will like us when ‘tis too late, repent
“Apart from being of practical help, very often a one-to-one conversation can be the catalyst for a parish having the confidence to undertake a complicated and expensive repair.”
Mrs Scilla Latham, Secretary, Norfolk Churches Trust firstname.lastname@example.org
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