Sky’s the limit for church in Palgrave, Suffolk after funding boost

A historic north Suffolk church which dates back to the 14th century has been given a �16,000 grant to carry out urgent repairs to the roof.

St Peter's Church at Palgrave has been awarded the funding by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to carry out urgent work to the roof which will prevent a special painting on the ceiling from getting damaged.

Hugh Bunbury, a churchwarden at St Peter's, said the ceiling artwork was designed by Diss carpenter John Hore in 1430 and would have taken months to complete.

The stencilled drawings show a Tracery, which is a series of Gothic geometric patterns and a number of suns with a fig leaf ornament.

Mr Bunbury said the drawing was rare and knew of only one other at Bardwell.

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However, the artwork is being threatened by leaking water from the roof which is suffering through wear and tear.

He said the nails on the roof were rusty and water was starting to flood the church, so the church applied to English Heritage for funding to replace tiles, nails and battens on the roof, which are strips of metal holding the tiles in place.

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Mr Bunbury said: 'The water from the roof was going to put our special ceiling at risk so we applied to English Heritage and we did not think we would get a grant, but we have been very lucky.'

He added: 'The amount is about what we had hoped for, but there is a lot of competition for the grants and they are only given to the most urgent cases and we need to keep the water out so we definitely qualify.'

However, the church did not realise until last year that repairs were needed to the roof as the problems arose quite suddenly.

Mr Bunbury said the work would be part of a broader restoration project costing �150,000, including the addition of a kitchen and toilet and work to make other parts of the church available for other events.

These include church activities such as youth groups and concerts, but Mr Bunbury said the village school next door to the church also uses the building as 'almost an extra classroom' and the new facilities would help the school.

'We could be a lot more flexible as to how we use the church space.

'However, we need to deal with the roof first, once we have got on top of that then we can deal with the rest.

'In a couple of weeks we will be getting a cherrypicker down to the church to carry out a roof inspection,' Mr Bunbury added.

St Peter's was one of three Suffolk churches to receive �174,000 out of a �2.8m HLF funding pot, awarded in February, to carry out repairs to the roofs.

The other two churches were at Hargrave and Stanningfield. In the eastern region, 28 churches received HLF funding.

Robin Llewellyn, head of HLF in the east, said: 'Historic places of worship are an irreplaceable part of our heritage that continue to play a vital role within local communities today.

'In the last 10 years HLF has invested �155m into these wonderful buildings and I am delighted we are able to continue supporting congregations across the East of England to safeguard them for future generations.'

Greg Luton, English Heritage planning director, said: 'We are pleased that these wonderful buildings will benefit from HLF funding and English Heritage's expert advice.'

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