Tiny parish of Barningham Winter delighted at major grant for its romantic ruin of a church

A community ranging in age from three months to 102 gathering to celebrate in St Mary's Church, Barn

A community ranging in age from three months to 102 gathering to celebrate in St Mary's Church, Barningham Winter. Picture: SUBMITTED - Credit: Archant

Passing motorists may have noticed a ruined church tower in the middle of a north Norfolk field and assumed it was abandoned.

They would be very wrong. In fact, St Mary's Church, is cherished by Barningham Winter's population of just 27.

But, much as they love their grade two-star listed church, there is no way the tiny number of residents could raise the £188,000 desperately needed for its repair.

So they are all delighted with a £143,300 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) - 76pc of the total - which will help pay for essential work to their church's roof and walls. It will also go towards consolidating the ruined tower and replacing pipes and gutters.

Churchwarden Amelia Courtauld said: 'The tower is a romantic and important feature of the church and houses the massive font where christenings still take place.'

Sunday services, weddings and funerals were also held in St Mary's, set in picturesque Barningham Hall park, six miles inland from Cromer.

'Within the grant there is also money for improving the heating and lighting in the church so that we can hold more events throughout the year for the wider community to enjoy,' added Mrs Courtauld.

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'We are very lucky to have been granted the money and it will enable a parish of only 27 people to look after their historic church - something we just couldn't have begun to do without Lottery players' money.'

Church chiefs will be making a second-round application to the HLF to help them finish the project, and will also be asking the Norfolk Churches Trust for cash.

'We plan to hold a few fund-raising events to meet our share of monies needed,' Mrs Courtauld added. 'They will range from a choral concert to a garden opening at Barningham Hall in the spring, with homemade teas.'