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Christmas funding boost for three Norfolk Churches

Broadcaster and journalist Huw Edwards, Vice President of the National Churches Trust, said: “I’m delighted that three historic churches in Norfolk are being helped with funding from the National Churches Trust and the Wolfson Foundation this Christmas. This will safeguard unique local heritage and keep these really important Norfolk churches open and in use for the benefit of local people. Whether seeking quiet reflection, access to community services or as a place to worship, the National Churches Trust helps hundreds of churches each year and with the support of local people keeps them thriving today, and tomorrow.”

St Michael and All Angels church, Geldeston

A £3,000 National Churches Trust Gateway Grant will help to pay for roof repairs, cleaning rainwater goods, repointing of extenal walls, and re-leading the transept windows at the Grade II* Listed church.

The church also receives a £10,000 Wolfson Fabric Repair Grant from the Wolfson Foundation on the recommendation of the National Churches Trust to help pay for the work.

St Michael’s suffered from significant damage from the weather causing deterioration of its historic fabric. The £3,000 Gateway Grant and the £10,000 Wolfson Fabric Repair Grant will facilitate repairs of slipped slates, cleaning of rainwater goods, repointing of external walls and re-leading of the transept windows.

St Michael and All Angels is a round tower church dating from the 14th to 15th centuries with additions 1860s. The 15th century porch is decorated with scenes of the Passion. The church has some high-quality internal and external wood and stone carvings from medieval and Victorian periods including by John Philip of London, an East Anglian octagonal font with smiling lions round the stem, and 20th century stained glass window by Leonard Walker RA. In the churchyard there is a rare World War I Memorial decorated with the crests of various regiments.

Catherine Bickmore, Churchwarden, said: “Hurrah – now the restoration works can go ahead! It will be wonderful to have our historic church in good order for all. The PCC are so grateful for the generous support and encouragement of these with other grant awarding charities, and local fund raising activities.”

St Andrew’s church, Hingham

A £25,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will help to pay for much needed community facilities at the Grade I Listed church with the installation of kitchen and toilet facilities, ensuring the church thrives today and tomorrow.

The church has a vision to combine a fully functioning Christian Centre and Community Hub welcoming wide-reaching ecumenical and secular activities, promoting increased community engagement across a benefice which measures 200km2. A £25,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will facilitate the installation of a new kitchen and toilet facilities.

Richard Till, Lay PCC Chairman, said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive support to our much awaited Facilities Project. This grant means, after 40 years of planning and fundraising, we can now start the project. It has been long awaited and we are excited about expanding our activities, increasing our community engagement, now we can have the appropriate facilities in place.”

St Andrew’s church is an unusually large 14th century church constructed between 1320 and 1360. It has a nave and two side aisles which are all open plan. There is a six storey tower which is 120 feet high and anecdotally said to be the second highest in Norfolk.

The church is a fine example of the Decorated period. The windows have an exceptionally beautiful style of tracery, especially on the side walls of the chancel. There is significant architectural interest. Notable features include the Morley Tomb in the chancel, described by Pevsner as, ‘one of the most impressive wall monuments of the 15th century in the whole of England’. There are 60 finely carved Victorian Arts and Crafts pews in the church. It has a double height hammer beam roof, which was restored in the 19th century.

In the early 16th century St Andrew’s was at the centre of a dispute between the puritan Rector and his congregation and the Bishop of Norwich. It led to many emigrating to America and founding the town of Hingham, Massachusetts. One of the migrants, Samuel Lincoln, baptised in the church on 24 August 1622, is a direct ancestor of Abraham Lincoln. In 1919, the American ambassador presented a bust of Samual Lincoln to the church, which can be seen today.

St Mary the Virgin, Whissonsett

A £12,530 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will help to pay for modern community facilities at the Grade II* Listed church of St Mary the Virgin in Whissonsett with the installation of a kitchen and fully accessible toilet in the church.

Village growth means the new facilities will enable St Mary’s to better serve its community.

Sue Rutter Secretary and Treasurer of St Mary the Virgin said: “We are very grateful to the National Churches Trust for their continued support. This grant means that we have almost reached our target within a year. We have had tremendous support from other grant making trusts, donors and fundraising.”

St Mary the Virgin church was originally built about 1250AD on the site of an earlier building, a short distance to the north of the present church.

It stands in the centre of the village. Various restorations took place between 1870 and 1875 and between 1987 and 1994. A new floor was laid in 2004. Roof repairs were carried out in 2019-20.

A head of a Saxon Cross found in the churchyard in 1900 is now displayed in the prayer corner.

The Nicolson organ – one of only two in the country – was built by Richard Nicholson in 1849-50 is in the nave. There is a memorial to Hugh and Derrick Seagrim, brothers who lost their lives in World War II. They were posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross and George Cross respectively – the only siblings to be so honoured.

The 14th century tower was crowned in the 15th century by a fine flushwork parapet containing shields and with four crocketed pinnacles at the corners. The east window glass shows the Nativity, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection in the main lights, with smaller scenes below of Jesus miracles. The glass was made by Ward & Hughes about 1865.