Work on major renovations and improvements to King’s Lynn Minster is set to begin next month, after a £218,000 Heritage Lottery grant was secured for the project.
Officials say there is still a £160,000 shortfall for the work and have appealed for local fundraising efforts to continue.
But they have also welcomed the award, which comes on top of nearly £50,000 raised since a fundraising campaign was launched last summer.
Vicar, Canon Chris Ivory, said: “I am so grateful for all the support that we have received to keep this fantastic church safe and to make it better able to serve the needs of visitors and the local community for many years to come.
“Thanks are particularly due to the Heritage Lottery Fund, and to Lottery players who resource it.”
Borough mayor Carol Bower added: “The Minster is a huge part of the heritage of Lynn and it has a special place in my personal experience over the last few months. I am particularly pleased that so many donations have come from local individuals and businesses who clearly feel the same.”
The initial phase of the project, which is expected to begin in February, will concentrate on repairs to stonework and stained glass windows.
Officials expect that will take around six months to complete and the minster will remain open throughout, though there may be short periods of limited access.
Building work on new facilities, including toilets, step-free access and educational materials, is then scheduled to start in the autumn, subject to sufficient funds being raised, and take around seven months to complete.
The new appeal target is to raie £45,000 by July, on top of the £47,000 already been raised locally, plus a further £15,000 by the end of the year.
Canon Ivory hopes half of that will come from local businesses, because of the economic benefits associated with the minster.
He said: “King’s Lynn is an outstanding town with an outstanding heritage. There are very few places to match it in the country, but it has been a secret too well kept.
“The Minster is at the heart of the history of the town and we want to be at the heart of the town advertising itself to the world.
“It remains the highest placed attraction among visitors to the town, so our hope is everyone who wants to see King’s Lynn thrive will continue to support the Minster.
“We want to appeal especially to local businesses because supporting the Minster will contribute to a thriving local economy which is of benefit to everyone.”
The minster has also announced the appointment of The Marquess Townshend, whose family seat is Raynham Hall, near Fakenham, as its first High Steward.
The honorary role means Lord Townshend will serve as an ambassador for the minster for an initial 10 year period. Although the role does not have any powers, it is intended to demonstrate the minster’s importance across a wider area than its own parish.
The Marquess, who also holds the title of Baron Townshend of Lynn Regis, will be formally appointed to the role in July, during the civic service that is traditionally held at the start of the annual King’s Lynn Festival
Canon Ivory said he was delighted by the appointment, adding: “Long before the significance of St Margaret’s to the whole Borough was recognised by ranting it the status of a Minster Church, it was regarded with affection and esteem across the Borough.
“It is a great encouragement that this connection will now be represented by the High Steward and it is perfect that it will begin with someone whose family have served the church and the county through many generations.”
Appeal donations can be made to King’s Lynn Minster, St Margaret’s Vicarage, St Margaret’s Place, King’s Lynn. PE30 5DL.