Church transformation project gets £10,000 boost
- Credit: MARK BULLIMORE
A village church famed for its medieval wall paintings has been given a £10,000 boost towards an ongoing project to transform the building into a community hub.
The Grade I-listed St Margaret’s church in Paston is getting the grant as part of a National Churches Trust scheme.
Philip Burton, the church's warden and chairman of the Paston Community Project steering group, said: "We are delighted to have been selected for support by the National Churches Trust to whom we are extremely grateful.
"The grant of £10,000 signifies a real boost to our fund-raising efforts and takes us within striking distance of our target of £158,000.
"The works which we are planning to start in the spring of 2021 will create a superb facility for the local community and for visitors, and will underpin the long-term sustainability of our ancient historic church."
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The first phase of the project has involved structural repairs, masonry repointing and installing a new drainage system.
An accessible toilet, kitchen facilities, heating system and storage space will be installed as part of the second phase, and the third phase will involve restoring the wall painting, including a late 14th century depiction of St Christopher crossing a river with the Christ Child on his shoulder.
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Towards the altar another painting has been identified as a morality tale showing three hunting kings or noblemen coming upon three skeletons hanging from a tree, showing how everyone ends up.
The painting had been unseen, probably for centuries, until it was discovered by accident in 1922.
Then, in November 2013, during the repair works, some further medieval wall paintings emerged above the chancel arch, showing scenes including an angel with curly hair swinging a censer, and symbols of the Passion.
These are considered very rare if not unique, because such scenes are usually only found carved in wood or stone.
Broadcaster and journalist Huw Edwards, who is also vice president of the National Churches Trust, said: "The UK's historic churches and chapels are a vital part of our national heritage and have done so much to help local people during the Covid-19 lockdown.
"But to survive, many need to carry out urgent repairs and install modern facilities. The cost of this work is far beyond what most congregations can pay for themselves."