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Historic England’s £280,000 grant to save historic church from collapse

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While public places of worship are not normally eligible for Historic England Repair Grants, in this exceptional case the public body stepped in to provide essential funding to prevent St Mary’s Church tower in North Tuddenham from risk of collapse.

The 14th-century west tower at the medieval church is the earliest part of the building, housing a single bell dating to ca.1380.

St Mary’s Church was added to Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register in 2017 after the tower showed defects including structural cracks.

Tony Calladine, regional director (East), Historic England said: “The church is an important historic building, treasured by its local community and it was imperative to act urgently to ensure that the church is saved and protected for the future.”

The defects are considered to be progressive and may result in at least partial collapse of the tower if not addressed as a priority.

Funding from Historic England will enable emergency works to stabilise the tower including underpinning, extensive repairs to the tower buttresses, repairs to the tower walls and parapets and installation of a new drainage system.

Mike Smith, fabric officer at St Mary’s Church, said: “There’s something about St Mary’s that brings a sense of calm and tranquillity to everyday life. Just looking at the Visitors’ Book reveals that I am not the only one who feels this way.

“Architecturally, it is stunningly beautiful and steeped in nearly 650 years of history. I thought that all this could be lost forever until Historic England intervened with this fantastic offer of help.

“I hope that their act of generous support is followed by other charities so that we can repair the tower and enjoy this church for many, many years to come.”

Within the church, distinctive features include a wide nave without aisles and unique Victorian wall tiling.

Throughout the church there are examples of remarkable decoration including wall paintings, framed biblical texts and depictions of the heavens in some of the window arches.

This article originally appeared on the Eastern Daily Press website.