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‘Church in the Fields’ wins Heritage Fund bid

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The project includes repairs and improvements to the Church (which has one of the oldest round towers in Norfolk) and a range of heritage projects.

Along with a number of other grants, the Church is set to be made wind and weatherproof, plus automatic door opening, wheelchair access, heating and lighting, and a water supply. Alongside the works – which will begin next Summer – there are projects to research and present aspects of local history over the next three years.

Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, these include ‘Victorian Village’ which features a local Primary School making puppets and putting on a play about life in the 19th century, including a reference to Haveringland Hall which once stood close to the Church.

Performances of a play that tells the story of ‘St William’ of Norwich are also planned. William is thought to have been born and baptised in Haveringland in the 12th century. His mutilated body was found on Mousehold Heath in Norwich and his death was later (falsely) blamed on the local Jewish community in what became known as the first ‘blood libel’.

The Church, which is the only public building in the village, is not normally open other than for a few services and a growing programme of events each year. A ‘Festival Church’, this is seen as a way of keeping otherwise struggling churches open and serving a range of communities as well as local residents; e.g. those linked to the service personnel at the Second World War RAF airfield that once stood close the Church….it was the airfield that saw the surrounding woodland felled- hence ‘The Church in the Fields’.

The Church is also considered to be a great example of a near complete Victorian rebuild with high-quality glass and carpentry.

It is also leading the way in trying to improve local biodiversity- its award-winning Conservation Churchyard is the focus for other environmental action to spread to the surrounding landscape; with an avenue of trees planted on the track leading to the Church five years ago and further ideas of working with local landowners to carry out work to create more nature friendly habitats and food sources.

A new community group- ‘Haveringland Together’- is already looking at raising further funds to complete stage 2 of the overall project which will see an internal all-access toilet and galley kitchen installed.

Commenting on the award, local vicar the Revd Andrew Whitehead said:
“This grant is fantastic news for our church! This generous award, made possible by National Lottery players, will help us to realise our exciting vision of a church serving its community in new ways, as well as securing a precious historic building for generations to come.”

Nigel Boldero, Churchwarden, who led the funding applications said: “It is fantastic to get this support, not only from the Heritage Fund, but a number of other sources. We can now continue our research into local history and start to tell these wonderful stories in a variety of ways to a wide range of people.”

The project includes a new ‘welcome area’ just inside the main entrance to the Church with space for information and souvenirs such as a new Church Guide and an interactive console to enable people to access historical information. The Project is being launched at the Church on Sunday 4 December at a ’Carols and Candlelight’ service commencing at 2pm.