The award is for the ‘Caring for our Roots’ project, transforming the at-risk church into a sustainable heritage, community and worship hub for the village of Deopham and for the wider area. This will be achieved in partnership with local schools, the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, the Norfolk Record Office and others. Members of High Oak Parochial Church Council, together with the Deopham St Andrew’s Restoration group (STAR) have been hard at work for more than two years to turn this vision into reality.
‘Caring for our Roots’ will explore the importance of place, identity and inclusion to a community as expressed through the distinctive and valued heritage of its parish church. This will be achieved both through urgent repairs to the church’s fabric in order to remove it from Historic England’s ‘Heritage At Risk’ Register and through a series of engaging new activities and resources, designed to explore, celebrate and nurture the ‘roots’ of community – its built, social and environmental heritage. These activities will culminate in the launch of a new ‘Caring for our Roots’ exhibition, co-created and co-curated by the most disadvantaged pupils from our local schools in partnership with the Norfolk Record Office.
The initial National Lottery Heritage Fund award will be used in the project’s development phase, to pay for further investigations into the church’s condition and to build project activity ideas. This will then lead to a further application to The National Lottery Heritage Fund for a grant to deliver the project and its outcomes. The group will appoint specialists to help them devise the best options to secure the future, among them an Activity Consultant and an Architect.
Project Manager Roger Cordey said: “We are thrilled that The National Lottery Heritage Fund has given us funding to develop our project further. This provides a fantastic opportunity for much wider and deeper engagement and inclusion with all ages across our community through a programme of new activities and interpretation at the church. Funding will also allow us to install better facilities, to keep it safe and in use for present and future generations. Our thanks also go to the National Lottery players.”
High Oak Parochial Church Council and the Deopham STAR group now have until 10th March 2025 to complete their work before applying to The National Lottery Heritage Fund for the larger delivery phase grant.
Deopham is a community of around 350 people living in a ‘linear’ village close to Hingham, Wymondham and Attleborough in South Norfolk.
We have consulted widely within our local community (a community survey) and beyond as we recognise that the project’s activity outcomes will be for all ages, including adult learners and for those visiting Deopham. This advice included that from key heritage and conservation organisations who will be directly involved in delivering the outcomes of the project through informal partnerships with us. Those we have consulted and sought advice from include:
- The Norfolk Record Office
- The Norfolk Wildlife Trust
- Historic England
- The Inspired Classrooms project
- Caring For God’s Acre
- The Gralix Hall, Deopham
- Hingham Toddler Group and Coffee Club
- Deopham Parish Council
- Norfolk County Council
- Informal consultations with groups and individuals already using the church
From these consultations and advice has come the clear and focussed desire to deliver activities that focus on supporting skills, educational development and wellbeing in a heritage setting by using both the church and the churchyard of St Andrew’s.
Thanks to Project Manager Roger Cordey for writing this article.