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Norfolk church to beat lead thieves with lottery funded repairs

PUBLISHED: 11:35 03 April 2019 | UPDATED: 11:35 03 April 2019

St Peter's Church in Merton, Norfolk, which is to undergo urgent repairs and develop a new community and visitor centre thanks to National Lottery funding. Picture: Ian Burt

St Peter's Church in Merton, Norfolk, which is to undergo urgent repairs and develop a new community and visitor centre thanks to National Lottery funding. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant

A Grade I listed village church is to undergo urgent repairs and develop a community and visitor centre after securing £100,000 of National Lottery funding.

Canon Paul Thomas OBE, interim parish priest and Carole Haggett, churchwarden of St Peter’s Church in Merton, Norfolk. Picture: St Peter's ChurchCanon Paul Thomas OBE, interim parish priest and Carole Haggett, churchwarden of St Peter’s Church in Merton, Norfolk. Picture: St Peter's Church

Historic St Peter’s Church in Merton, near Watton, is also to have its nave roof repaired with zinc rather than lead after previously being targeted by thieves.

In 2015 more than £2,000 worth of lead was stripped from its roof just weeks after it had been replaced follow a similar theft four years previously.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund grant will allow the project to extend the use of the church both as a local meeting place and as an attraction for visitors from further afield.

Repairs at St Peter's Church in Merton, Norfolk, will see lead on the nave roof replaced by zinc. The church has been a target for thieves. Picture: Ian BurtRepairs at St Peter's Church in Merton, Norfolk, will see lead on the nave roof replaced by zinc. The church has been a target for thieves. Picture: Ian Burt

Among the plans are a range of seminars, workshops and concerts for both adults and children delivered by history and music specialists.

Churchwarden Carole Haggett said: “We are thrilled to have received this support, thanks to National Lottery players. The project will enable us to extend our facilities in diverse ways. This will benefit the local community and many people from much further afield, both in the immediate future and for the years to come and guarantee the sustainability of Merton Church.”

A small flint church with a Saxo-Norman round tower situated in Merton Park, St Peter’s has a view across a small lake to Merton Hall. The church is closely associated with the de Grey family and their ancestors, lords of the manor of Merton from the Norman Conquest to the present day.

St Peter's Church in Merton, Norfolk, is a well preserved example of a 14th century church and part of the National Lottery funding will included guided tours. Picture: Evelyn SimakSt Peter's Church in Merton, Norfolk, is a well preserved example of a 14th century church and part of the National Lottery funding will included guided tours. Picture: Evelyn Simak

It is of particular architectural interest as a well preserved example of a 14th century church, with many details and fittings from the period and some fine workmanship from later periods, unspoiled by Victorian “improvements”.

The heritage project team will be offering guided church tours and is planning training sessions to train further volunteer tour guides. The church draws in cyclists from National Cycle Route 13 and walkers from the Peddar’s Way National Trail.

Canon Paul Thomas, recently appointed interim parish priest said: “St Peter’s is a wonderfully historic building and just begging to embark on its new role of greater involvement in the local and wider community. I join the team at a most exciting time and thanks to the National Lottery players the future looks full of promise.”

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