Our architect’s 2015 quinquennial inspection at the Church of St Margaret identified a staggering £155,000 worth of urgent building works. Having attended a Heritage Lottery event giving guidance on Grants for Places of Worship, we met the churchwarden and website developer at Clippesby, to pick their brains on their recent experience of running a project supported by an HLF grant. Inspired by their story and aided by our architect in April 2016 we applied for a grant of £316,290 which covered the total cost of the project for works, professional fees and VAT. In October 2016 we received the good news that we had been awarded a grant of £249,000, which included a development grant of £32,000. Work was carried out in two phases, the development stage and then the delivery stage.
During this phase the scheme was developed and a fully worked up bid submitted. Matched funding was required to make up the shortfall. The full amount was raised, but only after much work applying for grants from numerous grant-giving bodies along with community fund-raising. The next stage involved consultants arranging an opening up day. With the building assessed and reports compiled, (including a wildlife survey) we were in a position to produce a schedule of works and go out to tender. With tenders returned in September 2017 we submitted our second-round bid. In November Robyn Llewellyn, Head of HLF East of England, wrote with the wonderful news that we had been awarded a grant of £237,000.
The aims of our project are to make the building watertight, repair damage caused by years of water penetration, re-lead windows in the south and north aisles, and, in the interior, remove pews, repair the nave floor and plaster work and improve lighting and decoration. These extensive tasks were begun in March 2018 with the reordering of the interior. In autumn 2018 exterior works will begin to repair window stonework, south porch, north and south aisle parapets and the north and south aisle roof. New rainwater goods will be installed, drainage improved and safe access to the tower provided.
To enhance the visitor experience of the church local volunteers are developing plans to enable interaction with the church and local history topics. A dedicated church website is in development along with interpretation boards, display aids and guides for children and adults.
Events are planned with an appeal to a wide range of visitors. Those already booked include a wildlife expert explaining habits of resident bats (and, we hope, sighting some), classical and light music concerts, and a series of historical and Norfolk birdlife lectures. Village coffee mornings are already a regular booking in the church.
The PCC of St Margaret’s Church operates an open church policy.