Waterden’s mysterious church to receive £200k from Heritage Lottery

All Saints' Church, in Waterden. Photo: Lucy Hodges

All Saints' Church, in Waterden. Photo: Lucy Hodges - Credit: Archant

A thousand-year-old church with a mysterious past on the North Norfolk coast is to receive almost two hundred thousand pounds from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

All Saints' Church, Waterden, stands alone in the middle of fields, and offers a fascinating puzzle.

Its surrounding village simply vanished in the late Middle Ages, and, to this day, no one knows why.

Waterden's Anglo-Saxon church, situated around five miles from the coastline at Wells, will receive a £197,500 grant from the fund, which will go towards repairing and maintaining the building and graveyard for future generations.

A newly formed support group, 'Friends of All Saints' Waterden', wants to encourage more visitors and worshippers to visit the historic church, which has attracted interest for its beautiful location and architecture.

Playwright Alan Bennett has written about All Saints in his diaries, and cartoonist Osbert Lancaster has drawn the church.


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An initial sum of £29,100 will to go South Creake parochial council, who will draw up the plans to secure the future of the Grade II* listed building. Once the plans are approved, the full £197,500 grant be will awarded. Money will be spent on repairs, constructing a carpark, an information board, and roadsigns, to encourage people to visit the church, which has no electricity or water.

Father Clive Wylie, rector of Waterden and vicar of South Creake, said: 'All Saints' Church is an amazing place, and I am delighted that, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and National Lottery players, we are taking the first steps to secure its future for the next 100 years'.

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All Saints is mentioned in the Domesday Book, dating from 1086, and the historic church is a jumble of architectural styles, from Saxon and Norman, to Early English and Tudor. A storm in the early seventeenth centre caused parts of the structure to collapse.

But, whether it was to do with land enclosures, or the effect of the plague, why Waterden village vanished remains a mystery to this day.

If you're intrigued by the mystery, you can visit All Saints, open for worship and visits at all times. Eight services a year are held there, including a candlelit Christmas Eve carol service.

The 'Friends of All Saints Waterden' group will meet on Monday, October 23, at the Plume of Feathers pub, South Creake, at 7.30pm.

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