Suffolk churches in Southwold, Framlingham, Eye, Woolpit, Clare and Mildenhall to become learning centres after �40,000 boost

Suffolk churches are to become centres of 'learning and discovery' through a �40,000 project to promote their history.

The Angels and Pinnacles scheme will create 32 volunteer tour guides across 24 churches to encourage more people to explore their medieval halls.

The project is based around six 'hub' churches in Southwold, Framlingham, Eye, Woolpit, Clare and Mildenhall, and will enlist artists and photographers to engage with schools and local people. It comes after the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded a �40,000 cash grant to the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich to kick-start the project.

Marion Welham, church buildings and tourism officer for the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, said: 'We are thrilled to have the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund in raising the profile of our magnificent medieval churches.

'They are a fantastic learning resource for schools and an inspiration to older people because they tell us so much about people who lived in the local community.'

On Friday March 2, school children from Southwold Primary School visited St Edmunds Church, Southwold, ahead of their project which will see them working with local artist Jenny Nutbeem to create a vibrant display inside the building. It is just one of six schools taking part in 12 creative workshops this summer, while 12 photography workshops will also be held for adults.

Mrs Nutbeem, who produces art from recyclable materials, said: 'It's nice to do something different I have never worked in a church before so it will be interesting to see how it pans out. It will certainly take some planning, but it will be fun.'

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As part of the project, church heritage discovery trails will be created for cyclists and walkers, and a Suffolk Churches made Simple Guide will be published for visitors.

Simon Pitcher, team rector for Southwold, said: 'It is an exciting project and it will provide information that will give people a more enjoyable visit.

'I think the art and photography exhibitions will be a creative way of exploring the church, which will be a good thing.' Volunteers joining the scheme will be offered professional training to provide tours and activities.

The project was funded by Lord Belstead Charitable Trust, the Scarfe Charitable Trust, Suffolk County Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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