Monthly Archives: April 2019

Lottery award for south Norfolk church

A round tower church in south Norfolk with five bells dating from the early 1600s has been awarded a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant.
St Michael’s Church, Aslacton, near Long Stratton, has received £73,200 to carry out further repairs to the tower.

Line drawing of St Michael’s, Aslacton, which dates from 1957.

In 2012, the bells were silenced when a large crack appeared in the tower, which may date from Saxon times.
In response, the Aslacton Tower Repair Fund campaigners raised £15,000 to carry out initial repairs. The Round Tower Churches Society awarded £500 in 2012 for initial survey work when it was asked to help.
The ringing peal of bells were all cast by William Brend, of Norwich, and include some dated 604, two in 1607 and one in 1614. It is thought that there are only two full sets in Norfolk cast by Brend, which have survived. The other is relatively nearby at Thurton.
Although Aslacton was recorded in Domesday Book’s Great Survey of 1086, there is no specific reference to the church, which has a 53ft-high round tower.
However, it includes many typical Saxon features including belfry openings with flint jambs and double triangular headed openings, and a blocked flint framed west door.
When further structural damage was identified, the parochial church council led efforts to secure further funding to complete repairs and to make the church and tower weather-proof.
Norfolk Churches Tours, which marks its golden jubilee season in 2019, visited St Michael’s in 2009. Some of these details have been taken from the church leaflet written by Lyn Stilgoe, who is one of the guides.

Lottery grant won by Breckland church

A round tower church in the heart of Breckland has been awarded £100,000 by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

St Peter’s Church, Merton, near Watton, will also repair its nave roof with zinc – having twice been the victim of lead thieves in the past eight years.

The latest grant will enable the church to be used as a local meeting place and for seminars, workshops and concerts to be held. A number of initiatives to promote the church’s heritage and history will also be undertaken.

St Peter’s Church, Merton
St Peter’s Church, Merton

The grant has been welcomed by the Round Tower Churches Society, which offered financial help for urgent repairs immediately after an estimated £2,000 of lead was stolen in August 2015. The chairman, Stuart Bowell, wrote to the Eastern Daily Press after that 2015 theft, explaining that the total repair cost was likely to be around £25,000.

St Peter’s stands on raised ground overlooking the lake and Merton Hall. It has been closely associated with the de Grey family and their ancestors, who have been lord of the manor from the Norman Conquest.

The society gave £500 to the church in 2015 and members were given a guided tour of St Peter’s two years ago.

Since the society’s formation in 1973, it has now given almost £200,000 in grants to round tower churches. The overwhelming majority of more than 180 round churches include 124 in Norfolk, 38 in Suffolk and half a dozen in Cambridgeshire.