Five round tower churches have received total grants of £30,000 from the Norfolk Churches Trust.
At the quarterly council meeting in November, grants were made to churches in Norfolk and Suffolk – Forncett St Peter; St Peter, Haveringland; Herringfleet St Margaret; All Saints, Runhall and St Mary the Virgin, Weeting.
Forncett St Peter was awarded £6,000, which will help bridge the shortfall in a major restoration and repair programme costing £475,000. The urgent repairs include re-slating the nave and chancel roof, extensive repairs to nave and chancel gables and almost every part of the church, inside and outside.
The NCT responded to an appeal from St Peter, Haveringland, with a grant of £7,000 to fund repairs to the roof, external walls and also to the tower. While the National Lottery Heritage Fund has made a significant contribution, the soaring costs of materials and labour has left the church with a shortfall of about £30,000.
Four medieval windows at St Margaret, Herringfleet, need urgent action to preserve the 15th century stained glass. Many of the panels are corroding and without prompt remedial action could be lost. In addition, to internally ventilated protective glazing, protection of the glass will be included. The total cost will be around £55,000 and the NCT had awarded £5,000 towards the project.
With cracks in the tower and nave, All Saints, Runhall is on the official Heritage at Risk Register. With rapid deterioration of the external fabric, including the porch, prompt action is needed. In 2016, the surface water drainage system was highlighted as a key contributory factor, further confirmed in the 2021 quinquennial report. With the immediate cost for this work at more than £33,000, the NCT has given £8,000.
Finally, St Mary the Virgin, Weeting, has been given a grant of £4,000. In August, the Archdeacon closed the main body of the church until the nave ceiling has been made safe. As a result, there is no public access to most of the church although services can be held in the chancel.
With loose and falling plaster plus collapsed pews and a subsiding floor in the south aisle, it is likely that poor drainage continues to threaten the stability of the church. Accordingly, a number of urgent surveys to determine the underlying structural issues are needed.
The church was placed on the HARR (Heritage at Risk Register) in 2019 following a theft of lead. While Historic England made a generous grant of £7,650, rising costs have been a further challenge.
It is expected that repairs could start later this month, possibly from Monday, November 27. The latest phase of the repair/ investigations will cost about £17,500. Thanks to the Heritage England grant, the shortfall stands at £5,350 – and the Norfolk Churches Trust’s award of £4,000 and a likely grant of £1,350 from the Society will cover these initial costs.