Special repair grant to Breckland church

A special grant has been made to a Breckland church to complete vital roof repairs.

Three grants of a total of £6,000 were made at the Society’s quarterly committee meeting in March.

A total of £4,000 was given to St Peter’s Church, Merton, which needed funds to finish a major building programme.

Two other churches, St Mary’s, Haddiscoe, and St Peter’s, Theberton, were awarded £1,000 each – to enable roof repairs to be carried out.

There was particularly urgency at St Peter’s Church, Merton, near Watton, because additional problems came to light as the replacement of the nave roof neared completion.

The builders found that timbers supporting the roof and adjoining the tower had to be replaced. This extra work would leave the church with a shortfall of £17,210, so the grant – with half the funds from the Stan Barnes legacy – was agreed.

St Peter was fortunate to receive a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant, as reported in the June 2019, Round Tower, of £100,000. It decided to replace the lead roof with zinc – having twice been a victim of lead thieves in the previous eight years – and also transform the church into a local centre for community and associated activities.

In 2015, the south aisle roof was re-roofed with zinc following lead theft. Repairs to stonework were carried out at the same time.

A few weeks after the church re-opened, the lead was stolen from the south side of the nave roof. While a tarpaulin protected half of the nave – with passage of time as funds were raised and permissions obtained, it deteriorated.

The two awards of £1,000, each include £500 from the Stan Barnes legacy fund.

At St Mary’s, Haddiscoe, it will cost about £4,500 to refix lead sheets on the south side of the nave roof. While the Society has made previous grants, £500 in 2017 and £200 in 2001, this will keep the church watertight.

St Peter’s, Theberton, needs to repair and “dress-up” reed thatch, which will cost some £2,400. The thatcher said that this “stitch-in-time” should extend the roof’s life by some years.

The Society has made grants to this church over the years for various other works including £2,000 in 2013, £500 in 2008 and £500 in 2003.

There are looming issues with major repairs to the tower highlighted, which could cost more than £100,000 although no precise investigation has yet been carried out.