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St Peters Merton receives grant and a new lease of life

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St Peter’s is a small flint church, with a Saxo-Norman round tower, beautifully situated in Merton Park with a breath-taking view across a small lake to Merton Hall. It is of particular architectural interest as a well-preserved example of a 14th century church, with many details and fittings from the same period and some fine workmanship from later periods.

In March 2019 St Peter’s Church, Merton received a grant of £100,000 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for an exciting heritage project: “Develop our church as a community and visitor centre supporting worship, heritage and the arts”.

This Grade I listed building, which had suffered from the theft of lead, has undergone urgent repairs and the nave roof has been restored with zinc. A new kitchenette and catering facilities have been installed.

Whilst the roof works were being carried out, it was discovered additional repairs were required, and grants for these were very kindly given by The Norfolk Churches Trust, The Round Tower Churches Society, The Geoffrey Watling Charity and The Paul Bassam Charitable Trust.

Works started in October 2019, and after delays due to COVID-19, were finally completed April 2023. With the building now weatherproof, The National Lottery Heritage Fund activities and events were organised for the local community and visitors from further afield. These included: Church Tours, Art Day, Concert, Music and Heritage Videos, Organ Workshops and Lessons, Daffodil Day and a celebratory Heritage Open Day. A new guidebook and new heritage displays have been produced. The NLHF also funded the development of a new website for St Peter’s.

Revd Adrian Bell, former Priest-in-Charge of the Wayland Group of Parishes including Merton Church said: “It was a with great joy that recently I visited St Peter’s Church Merton to take a church service but also to see the restoration work completed at this ancient and magnificent Norfolk round tower church. Taking services there over a number of years with buckets catching rain water and few facilities for worshippers, or visitors, it was a joy to see the roof totally restored and a kitchenette in place for refreshments. Already the church has been used not only for services but for Open Days and Musical Evenings and no doubt more events will be planned in the future. The future of Merton Church is now secure due to the generosity of The National Lottery Heritage Fund.”

Carole Haggett, Churchwarden, said: “Our thanks go to The National Lottery Heritage Fund, and everyone who has helped to make this project so successful. We now have a sound roof and completely weatherproof building, and the new kitchenette facilities will enable the building to be used for various functions, ensuring the survival of our beautiful church into the future.”

Michael Pollitt of the Round Tower Society said: “In the year that the Round Tower Churches Society celebrates its golden jubilee, it is great news that St Peter, Merton has completed a major conservation and repair programme. ‘Three years ago the Society awarded £4,000 towards the work, so well done to the team which has given a new lease of life to this lovely church,’ said Stuart Bowell, chairman.”