Knapton Church’s stunning roof and angels saved by Heritage Lottery Fund

PUBLISHED: 11:08 02 October 2015 | UPDATED: 11:08 02 October 2015

Appeal to save Knapton Church's unique hammer beam angels roof. 

Appeal to save Knapton Church's unique hammer beam angels roof. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2013

A glorious piece of Norfolk’s medieval heritage has been saved, thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund windfall.

Asbestos removal set to start

While work on the roof and tower of St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Knapton, is unlikely to start before spring, church chiefs are hoping the removal of asbestos from the tower can get under way as soon as possible.

The tower has been closed since the beginning of the year when it was discovered.

Closure has meant the church’s six bells, which attract ringers from around the country, could not be rung.

And the church clock has stopped working as no-one can get to it for maintenance.

The top of the tower boasts a weather vane designed by the artist John Sell Cotman (1782-1842) when he was staying nearby.

The £216,400 grant will pay for urgent repairs to Knapton Church, preserving a threatened host of angels flying the length of its breathtaking double hammer-beamed roof.

The roof and its 138 carved and painted angels, with their wings outstretched, date from 1504 and are at risk because the south nave roof over them leaks badly.

Their plight caused worried chiefs at the church, near North Walsham, to launch a “Save Knapton’s Angels” appeal more than two years ago.

The grade one listed church needs £375,000 of repairs to the roof, and to its cracked 14th century tower. The lottery grant, plus donations from other bodies, means there is now only a £15,000 shortfall and work can begin.

Appeal to save Knapton Church's unique hammer beam angels roof. 
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYAppeal to save Knapton Church's unique hammer beam angels roof. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Delighted churchwarden Liz Winter said everybody had been “thrilled to bits” at the lottery grant news, including the Rev Andrew Jones, who became rector in August.

“The church looks like a plain and simple country church from the outside, until you go in and see our wonderful roof,” said Mrs Winter.

“It’s unique in Europe and people come from far and wide to gaze at it.”

The roof and its angels are among the national 100 Church Treasures considered to be at risk of permanent damage and loss, listed by ChurchCare, the cathedral and buildings division of the Archbishops’ Council.

Mrs Winter said Knapton’s small population of fewer than 300 had rallied to support the cause with concerts, heritage weekends and a talk by actor and presenter Ross Kemp among events which had helped add £7,000 to the appeal coffers.

She hopes work on the roof and tower can get under way in the spring.

“Fingers crossed that we can have a celebration service about this time next year,” she added.

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