Major conservation of south Norfolk’s most important Norman churches should start this autumn.
The round tower churches at Hales and nearby Heckingham are among the country’s finest examples of 12th century Norman construction.
The stonework, especially of the Norman doorways, is breathtaking. St Margaret’s also has a cameo role in Armando Iannucci’s David Copperfield film.
A three-year fundraising campaign, led by national charity, the Churches Conservation Trust, has enabled the £25,000 project to go ahead. The churches attract around 3,600 visitors a year and more may come once repairs have been completed.
Donations from trusts and individuals will enable this urgent work to be carried out while the CCT will underwrite the shortfall.
“These are nationally important churches in isolated rural south Norfolk which attract a large number of visitors each year. We will repair damage to the thatched roofs at the tiny rural churches of St Margaret’s in Hales and St. Gregory’s in Heckingham,” said Gabriella Misuriello, the CCT’s head of conservation.
The CCT has been caring for Hales and Heckingham for almost half a century. A combination of bird damage to the thatch, weather and rain require prompt repair. The thatching and replacement ridge work will cost almost £20,000.
Norfolk reed will be used to repair the thatch, moss combed out and existing ridge replaced. A new wrap over the ridge in a traditional Norfolk pattern will be fitted. Further, broken windows will be mended and these repairs will protect the medieval wall paintings.
The CCT cares for 365 churches in England including 28 in Norfolk. It held a public meeting at Hales in 2017, which generated support and gifts. Donations have been received from the All Churches Trust; Bacon Charitable Trust, Jill Franklin Charitable Trust and Geoffrey Watling Charity.