Protect our churches - call

CHURCHES in need of repair in Norfolk and Suffolk have been given a financial boost - but a rallying cry was made for more to be done to protect the region's precious religious buildings.

CHURCHES in need of repair in Norfolk and Suffolk have been given a financial boost - but a rallying cry was made for more to be done to protect the region's precious religious buildings.

As English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund announced that nearly �1.4m is being given to churches and chapels in Norfolk and north Suffolk to help fund repairs, church leaders called for local communities to support their historic buildings.

Norfolk has more than 600 medieval churches - the highest concentration anywhere in the world.

Eleven Norfolk churches and two in north Suffolk are set to benefit from the latest round of grants, including �175,000 for a church near Swaffham (see panel).


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But the amount of money needed to maintain the buildings grows year on year and church officials say more cash needs to be found to keep them open and safe for future generations.

Norfolk Churches Trust secretary Malcolm Fisher said that while the latest grants would go a long way towards getting repair work under way at local churches, there was not enough cash available for all of the schemes which needed it.

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He said: “There is certainly not enough funding available for churches. It's a ridiculous situation where �10m a year comes from the government through English Heritage for church restoration across the whole country - Norfolk could easily swallow up that whole amount year on year.

“In this day and age, that amount of money is nothing. When substantial work needs doing on a medieval church, it is always going to cost an amount which is way beyond the ability of local fundraising.”

Mr Fisher said local communities also needed to step up to preserve the churches and appreciate their historic value.

“It's a matter of encouraging churches and the local communities to work together and give these fundraising projects a bit of a morale boost. It so often comes down to just one or two people doing the work, and that can be hugely demoralising,” he said.

Norfolk churches receiving cash in the area:

St Margaret, Little Dunham - �175,000.

An early English building with some elaborations in the 14th and 15th centuries. The interior has many Victorian additions, from the tiles to the woodwork to the elegant crucifixion scene in the east window.

St Peter and St Paul, Shropham - �117,000.

A large Perpendicular building of flint which still bears the marks of the early English church it replaced. An interesting feature is the lectern with a revolving top.

All Saints, Threxton - �74,000

Most probably built on the site of a Roman villa, it is a fine example of a round tower church. Interpretation of dates is varied, but it is idely believed that the church dates back to the 13th century.

St Mary the Virgin, Feltwell - �15,000

With parts dating back to the 1275-1375 period, the church has a magnificent array of Tudor benches or pews, built in the late 1400s and which are some of the finest examples of pre-Reformation benches in the country.

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