Our incredible journey in a nutshell!
When confronted with the results of our Quinquennial inspection in 2013 we were almost in despair Stow Bedon is a small rural village with some 240 parishioners and no amenities whatsoever.
However, Nicholas Warns, our Architect, pointed us in the direction of a workshop organised by the Diocese, introducing the East of England Heritage Lottery Funding for Places of Worship.
We enlisted the help of one of the Diocese ‘Ambassadors’ Ken Grapes who helped steer us through the paperwork required to obtain a grant.
To cut a long story short, we were awarded a grant of £250,000 to re-roof the nave, chancel and vestry; install new guttering and soakaways and refurbish the chancel and make some improvements to the nave.
The PCC decided that with this investment the church should be made available for use by the wider community and major improvements made to the nave. This involved removing the pews to install a new engineered wooden floor to enable wheelchair access, repositioning the font and improving the heating and lighting. After some compromise over the removal of the pews we were granted the necessary Faculties and were ready to start work in 2015.
However, a bat survey showed a maternity unit in the roof space and work was delayed until January 2016. In the meantime we were fortunate to obtain a grant from Norfolk Churches Trust of £7,000, a grant from Garfield Weston of £2,500, £15,000 from the Village Hall Fund as well as £15,000 from church reserves.
The Parish Council, which for years has had to hold its meetings in the neighbouring village, was fully supportive of our plans endorsing the idea of a village amenity.
Work started in January 2016 – the windiest and wettest month for many a year. Scaffolding was erected and the building shrouded in polythene. Our contractors, English Foundry Lead were fantastic and seemed to embrace the project as if it was their own. Iain Walker from Nicholas Warns Architects was a tower of strength helping us deal with HLF and the contractors and the work was completed on schedule in June 2016.
Conditions for obtaining the HLF grant were that we would produce a new church guide, a children’s guide and a Heritage display and with the help of the village Heritage Group we forged ahead with these projects. Pupils from the neighbouring village school helped with the children’s guide and Naked Marketing in nearby Hingham pulled together all our efforts with printers Bakers from Attleborough producing high quality work.
We were hard pressed to get everything sorted for our Open Day on 10 December and to meet the HLF deadline of the end of 2016.
We had nearly 150 visitors and their comments in the visitor’s book summed it up! Wow, fabulous, beautiful, brilliant concept, amazing transformation – very versatile too. They enjoyed reading our six display boards, sitting down and chatting over home made refreshments and browsing the various stalls of home made jams and chutneys etc. and we raised a welcome £1,500. Phase three is to have water connected and a lavatory and kitchenette installed. Watch this space.
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