Boost for church with £250,000 grant

Sacred Heart Church, Southwold. Picture: KEITH MORRIS/ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

Sacred Heart Church, Southwold. Picture: KEITH MORRIS/ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH - Credit: Archant

A church has received a boost – after being awarded a Heritage Lottery grant of £250,000 to repair and restore its tower and to improve the heating and lighting.

Recent structural surveys revealed that the tower of the Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart in Southwold was in danger of collapse unless urgent work was carried out.

Parish Priest Fr Roger de Lacy-Spencer said: 'This grant will ensure that the Church can continue to welcome both parishioners and visitors. It is very much part of the Southwold scene and I hope that this grant will enable more people to come and share it with us.'

Work will start in the next few months to ensure that the building is safe to use while the complex structural works are planned.

Nicholas Warns Architects, of Norwich, have been engaged to advise on the works and it is anticipated that the project will also help interpret the church building as well as enhance access to the view from the tower.

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Expressing delight at the lottery grant, parish project manager, Cedric Burton, said: 'We are absolutely delighted and extremely grateful to have been awarded this grant which will help us both preserve a unique piece of architectural history and enable more people to understand why churches are built as they are.'

The structural problems stem from the use of steel and concrete in the construction. Water ingress has corroded the reinforcing metal and the concrete is disintegrating.

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Total costs of the project to repair the structural defects and improving heating and lighting, as well as providing interpretative displays, is likely to be around £320,000.

With the Catholic Church in Southwold commissioned in 1912, it was built in 1916 – at the height of the First World War – with money from a local legacy.

The church is a unique example of the work of priest and architect Fr Benedict Williamson, who built around 30 churches in the years from the late 1890s to the early 1920s, mostly in and around London.

It is built in the Late Gothic style and is a significant feature of the Southwold landscape. The view from the tower is outstanding, taking in the whole sweep of Sole Bay and the River Blyth out to Halesworth.

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