Norfolk and Suffolk churches to receive £1.7m for urgent roof repairs

Rev Leonard Payne outside St Nicholas Church, Wrentham.

Rev Leonard Payne outside St Nicholas Church, Wrentham. - Credit: Archant © 2011

A £1.7m lifeline has been given to help 34 churches in Norfolk and Suffolk with urgent roof repairs.

The churches are among 60 across the East of England to receive more than £2.8m of grants through the Listed Places of Worship: Roof Repair Fund.

• Click here to view a map of the churches that will receive the grants and how much they will get

Others in our region to receive grants include the Emmanuel Church in Wisbech, which receives £76,000.

The buildings, from a variety of denominations, will now be made weather-tight, safe and open for use.

The news comes as another fund has also handed out £6.9m to 31 cathedrals, including both of Norwich's cathedrals, St Edsmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds and Ely Cathedral.

The Venerable Jan McFarlane, Archdeacon of Norwich, said: 'We are delighted to have received these grants for the repair of our church roofs.

'In many of our villages, the church is the last community building to remain open, and the cost of keeping the roof wind and weather proof is often too great for the relatively small number of people who live there.

Most Read

'We very much want to keep our churches open as spaces for the community to use as well as for worship, and want to be able to hand them down to the next generation, so these grants will go some way to helping us do that.

'We're aware that many churches who applied haven't been awarded a grant as the Government were taken aback at the number of applications across the country, and we're pleased that further help has been promised.'

The fund has been established as damage from rain water is often the main reason why historic places of worship are at risk.

Rain water can quickly cause problems to plasterwork, wall paintings, roof timbers, masonry and brickwork.

Much of this decay can be slowed considerably or stopped altogether by simply preventing water coming in, which is why the fund also gives grants for rainwater disposal systems.

The money for cathedrals, from the First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund, includes £179,900 for urgent roof re-leading at the Catholic Cathedral of St John The Baptist in Norwich and £88,620 for repairs to a medieval roof at Norwich Cathedral.

The roof repair fund for churches was launched by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Autumn Statement in December 2015 with a UK-wide budget of £15m.

In his 2015 Budget speech the Chancellor announced a further commitment of £40m to the fund.

This new money brings the total UK funding package up to £55m and the grants announced yesterday account for £30m of the allocated funding.

The fund will reopen to new applications later this year and successful applicants will be announced in 2016. All those who were unsuccessful in yesterday's first round of awards will be able to reapply.

The fund is administered by the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) on behalf of the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS).

A full list of awards can be found at

• The Eastern Daily Press launched its Stop The Roof Raiders campaign in a bid to halt the rising number of lead thefts from churches.

We are offering a £1,000 reward for information leading to anyone being convicted of a roof raid.

Incidents of theft have doubled year-on-year in the Norwich, Ely and St Edmundsbury dioceses.

Although not specifically established to help replace stolen lead, the government's roof repair fund can be used to help many churches who have struggled in the wake of a devastating raid.

A spokesman said: 'In certain cases, the lead that has been removed will be replaced as part of this funding.'