A much-loved West Norfolk church is looking forward to a summer of celebration as it nears the end of a major £344,000 renovation project.
St Mary’s Church in Sedgeford is planning several exhibitions and guided tours later this year to unveil the culmination of months of hard work.
The Grade 1 listed church, which is more than 900 years old, was on the English Heritage ‘at risk’ register and in urgent need of repair.
But thanks to a £228,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the cost of the restoration, the future of the church has been secured for many more years to come.
Carrying on from extensive repairs to the north side of the church in 2011, the grant enabled church officials to start work, mainly on its south side, in October last year.
Vital repairs have been carried out to the south transept roof and south porch, which are almost complete, and rainwater goods are being replaced on the south side to make the church weatherproof and watertight.
Investigative work carried out in early 2015 revealed rotting joists under the pew floor, and those too have had to be repaired or replaced.
Pew heating is also being installed, and some pews have been removed from the south side of the church to make way for a community area for exhibitions and refreshments.
The new community area, along with other facilities including a new toilet, will enable the church to be used more often for a wider range of events.
Churchwarden Pam Goddard said the rest of the money for the project was raised through smaller grants, including £15,000 from The National Churches Trust, as well as regular fundraising and a village appeal.
She said: “Sedgeford church was on the ‘at risk’ register and we are very grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for their very generous support plus further support from The National Churches Trust and many other charitable trusts.
“There has been a church on this site for over 900 years and we feel that once this work has been completed it will be here for many years to come.”
She said the church was now looking forward to throwing open its doors to the community in the summer to celebrate all that has been achieved.
“Several exhibitions are planned for June, July, August and September,” she said. “We look forward to welcoming members of the public to our exhibitions and guided tours and at the same time enjoy a cup of tea and cake.”