Heritage Lottery Fund for South Norfolk church
The Gissing PCC and Friends of Gissing Church partnership have received a first round pass and a development grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund – Places of Worship Scheme – so they can progress their plans for urgent structural and conservation repairs to the fabric of the village’s Grade I listed church.
Development funding of £30,500 will allow them to undertake investigations, monitoring and research work, prepare specifications and drawings, and seek tenders for the works in order to submit a full grant application in about 10 months’ time.
The project will concentrate on six distinct parts of the church. South chapel, north chapel, chancel, round tower, north porch and a complete scheme of new ground drainage around the perimeter. In addition there will be the opportunity to upgrade the present electricity supply and to install a modern and effective heating system throughout the entire church – something many members of the congregation and other users of the church building have been wanting for a number of years.
The church has stood at the heart of the village for nearly a thousand years and is a focal point for the community. It contains a rare, narrow double hammer-beam roof with carved wooden angels and a number of ornate monuments to a local family – the Kemps – who were once lords of the manor in Gissing.
The project will also increase our knowledge of the church and its history, providing information which we can use to promote the heritage of the building. Plans include the development of a website, production of new information leaflets and guides, activities for children from the local playgroup and surrounding area and a number of local history lectures. These initiatives will encourage the use of the church as a venue for local community events throughout the year.
It was at a concert in the church, during the recent Festival of Flowers and Music, that Richard Bacon MP announced, on behalf of the PCC and Friends, that a development grant award had been made by the Heritage Lottery Fund. It was news that the the PCC and Friends had been waiting for since submitting an application in May.
George Hammond, Lay Chair of the PCC said: “We are absolutely delighted – we as a community have put a lot of work into this and it’s good to see that HLF has given the project its support. This gets us a lot closer to our vision of a church to which all parts of the community feel a common connection and are delighted to be engaged with”.
Fiona Turton, Chair person of the Friends of Gissing Church said: “Once the repairs are completed St Mary’s can be used for a wide range of concerts and exhibitions, providing an inviting venue for a range of community events. The church has a fascinating heritage and many stories to tell, and we look forward to being able to explain and promote it so much more effectively”.
Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said: “Norfolk’s historic and diverse places of worship are so often at the heart of our communities. St Mary’s Church in Gissing is an excellent example of how HLF can help conserve a much loved building so it can continue to serve local people of all ages”.
Pictured From left to right: Fiona Turton and Eddie Scoggins (both members of Friends of Gissing Church), Richard Bacon MP (member of Parliament for South Norfolk) and George Hammond (Lay Chair of Gissing PCC).