Historic St Margaret’s Church in Starston given £222,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant to fix leaking roof

Churchwarden Julian Taylor outside St Margaret's Church in Starston. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Churchwarden Julian Taylor outside St Margaret's Church in Starston. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2015

A medieval village church has been given a £222,000 lifeline by the Heritage Lottery Fund to fix a leaking roof which threatened its future.

St Margaret's Church in Starston. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

St Margaret's Church in Starston. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2015

Serving a village with a population of just 300 people and with a regular attendance of 20 per week, volunteers at Starston's St Margaret's Church have long had the goal of opening the Grade I Listed Building up to the wider community.

But after years of patching up its ageing roof with repairs, they needed a permanent solution - otherwise they might not have a church at all.

Led by its churchwarden and lay PCC chairman John Formston, they set themselves the target of 'keeping the water out and bringing the community in'.

Yet with the repairs being so expensive, it needed grant funding to be able to achieve it.

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Thankfully it has now got the full £222,000 it was asking for, along with a development grant of £28,000, which will enable it to carry out essential conservation work and extensive repairs to the main fabric of the church to ensure that it is watertight.

Even then the work will not be done, as the church - which sits on a little hill above a small river - wants to raise a further £30,000 to remove pews and put in a kitchenette, which organisers believe is a vital facility for visitors.

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But Mr Formston said: 'It will enable us to widen the scope of the church for more community-based events and social entertainment in the knowledge that we are a step closer to conserving it for future generations.'

Fellow churchwarden Julian Taylor said plans will now be made to decide events and other activities that can be held in the church to widen its community use. Concerts and plays have already been held in the building.

It will be inviting members of the community to become involved.

'This grant has helped us enormously, as it's something we couldn't have done ourselves,' Mr Taylor said.

'We're now in a position where quite a lot of the population is aged under 16 and we need to be looking to the future.'

Church members also hope that once the repairs are complete, the building will be more accommodating for weddings, funerals and other community-based events.

St Margaret's Church is the only Grade I Listed Building in the village. It is characterised by its chequer-board flush-work around the tower parapet and along the Knave wall tops, as well as the decorative use of flint-work on the porch and Chancel walls.

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