Wells Parochial Church Council has been awarded a National Lottery Heritage Fund Grant of £286,100 for restoration work and to deliver a range of new activities at St Nicholas Church, Wells-next-the-Sea.
The project will safeguard the building, which is on Historic England’s ‘Heritage At Risk Register’, and will deliver innovative activities, including a new interpretive scheme exploring the heritage of the building and its churchyards, enabling the church to forge stronger links with the wider community.
The church is a Grade II* building situated in the central Conservation Area of the town of Wells-next-the-Sea. Originally built in the13th century, with a large-scale restoration taking place around 1460, it was destroyed by a devastating fire in 1879. The medieval tower, most of the external walls, and the south porch survived the fire and the church was re-built in 1883.
Working with key partners to establish St Nicholas as a heritage and well-being hub for the town, the funding will deliver new activities such as a Heritage Detective Trail and a new well-being conservation area within the churchyard in partnership with the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. The scheme will also link to and support the popular Heritage Centre at Wells Maltings and will deliver public events such as heritage well-being days in partnership with Wells Community Hospital Trust, and Conservation Skills Days where people will be able to meet the project team to learn about the conservation skills used to restore both the building and churchyard. The project will also reduce the building’s carbon footprint by installing secondary glazing to some windows and introducing a cycle stand in the churchyard to encourage visitors to cycle (or walk!) to the church.
The Revd Brenda Stewart said: “We’re delighted that we’ve received this support and would like to say a huge thanks to National Lottery players. St Nicholas Church has always been such an important building in Wells-next-the-Sea and it’s great to know that we will now be preserving it for future generations of local people and visitors to our town. We’re also very excited about the project’s activities and interpretation, including the habitat conservation and well-being activities planned in the churchyard. We are very grateful that this has been made possible by money raised by National Lottery players.”
Liz Bates, Head of Investment, Midlands & East said: “We are delighted that our funding award will support St Nicholas Church to remain an important heritage building and continue as a vital and vibrant community hub. A huge thanks to National Lottery players for their support of this restoration project and the new activities, that will impact positively on the health and well-being of the people who live in Wells-next-the-Sea and beyond.”