Village joy at £190,000 to restore historic church
PUBLISHED: 13:25 11 June 2019 | UPDATED: 10:29 13 June 2019
A village has secured £190,000 in funding to save its historic church from disrepair and give it a new lease of life as the centre of the community.
Mentioned in the Domesday Book, parts of All Saints Parish Church, in Stuston, near Diss, date back to the 15th century, while other parts were built by the well-known architect Thomas Jekyll in 1861.
But the years have taken their toll on the building's roof and tower, meaning the church is now in need of structural work and repairs to water damage.
Following a bid by Stuston Parochial Church Council (PCC), the small community is celebrating being allocated the Heritage Lottery Fund grant and work has already started on the project that will make the building watertight, restore its round tower and install heating and new flooring.
Allocation of the latest funding follows Heritage Lottery Fund granting the community an initial £21,200 last year to assess the extent of the work needed. Although a further £30,000 will still be needed it is hoped the work will be complete by the end of the year.
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Conditions of the funding include widening community use and the provision of education. The PCC hope to involve local schools.
Not just hoping to repair the church, the PCC also aims to make the church a central feature of village life as a place for community events and village meetings.
The PCC said main barriers to wider use have been access, parking and the absence of toilets. Initial contacts have been made to a neighbouring land owner about the possibility of purchasing land to provide for more parking.
Roger Greenacre, the PCC project manager, said: "We have to widen the appeal of the church and we have to be able to use it for the whole community."
The Bishop of Dunwich Mike Harrison (left) is set to learn more about the work firsthand when he visits the church as part of a welcome weekend being held by the North Hartismere Benefice, which includes Stuston, on June 22 and 23.
Rector the Rev Adrian Watkins said: "The Bishop visiting is something special and he will be meeting with friends from the community and discussing the future of the building, and its use for the community as a whole in Stuston, and getting an update on the progress of the work."