Society gives £10,000 in grants to churches across the eastern counties

A total of £10,000 of grants for round tower churches in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire has been awarded.

The latest grants were made to St Mary the Virgin, Wortham, near Diss; the fire-ravaged St Mary’s, Beachamwell, near Swaffham; St Peter’s, Snailwell, near Newmarket and St Mary’s, Bartlow, near Haverhill.

It brings the total of outstanding grants or promises given by the Round Tower Churches Society, which celebrates its golden jubilee in 2023, to £50,000.

As some churches face formidable fund-raising challenges, sometimes it can take several years before repair work can start. One of the longest-outstanding awards, £5,000 was made to Tuttington church, near Aylsham, in September 2015.

Another promise of £4,000 was made in February 2019 to St Peter’s, Haveringland, near Norwich. Work is scheduled to start in late spring/ early summer at the church, which has been granted almost £200,000 in a National Lottery Heritage funding.

In addition, in the current year, the Society has paid £24,000 to nine churches towards urgent repair costs, including £5,000 to Broomfield, near Chelmsford, Essex.

At the latest December quarterly meeting, it was agreed to offer further help to St Mary’s Beachamwell, which was devastated by fire on February 4. In total, the Society has now awarded £5,000 towards the cost of uninsured repairs, mainly to the tower. The Norfolk Churches Trust has also given £8,000 for this work.

A major restoration costing more than £125,000, which will include re-roofing the nave, is planned to start in autumn 2023 at St Mary the Virgin, Wortham.

The Society awarded £5,000 towards the repairs to the church, which has the country’s widest diameter round tower.

One of the three Cambridgeshire round tower churches, St Mary’s, Bartlow, has to raise almost £100,000 for repairs. The tower is in need of re-pointing, so a grant of £2,500 has been made. 

St Peter’s, Snailwell, near Newmarket, was given £500 towards the repair of the chancel cross, which could cost between £4,000 and £7,500. The last grant awarded by the Society was £200 in 1995.

The church has already spent about £4,000 to repair and replace mesh guards over its 14 stained glass windows.

One of the biggest legacies in the Society’s history was received in June 2019 from the estate of Stan Barnes, who left almost £80,000. This generous legacy has since made it possible for the charity to give bigger grants to several dozen churches.