Christmas funding boost for W Norfolk churches
Two much loved West Norfolk churches are to share in a £390,000 funding payout from the National Churches Trust.
A total of 29 churches and chapels in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will benefit from the latest grants from the National Churches, the UK church repair and support charity.
Huw Edwards, Vice-President of the National Churches Trust said:
“I'm delighted that this Christmas the future of All Saint’s Church, Litcham and St Mary the Virgin, Sedgeford is being safeguarded by National Churches Trust grants. This funding will help ensure that these two much loved Norfolk churches continue to serve local people for many years to come.”
All Saints, Litcham, Norfolk
£10,000 National Churches Trust Repair Grant to help fund a project to re-slate the nave roof and re-lead the south aisle roof. The project will improve the interior of the building by stopping water ingress and thereby enable unimpeded use of the church for christenings, weddings and funerals as well as worship.
Areas of the church date from the 13th century although much of the present building dates from the early 15th century. The square tower was largely rebuilt in the early 15th century. The clock is dated 1725 and was made by the Swaffham blacksmith. The tower contains a peal of six bells, which are still rung today by the Litcham Bellringers.
The church has an unusual red and green painted rood screen which was completed in 1536 and shows twenty-two painted images of saints. The tracery of the upper portions of the screen are carved with great delicacy. The female saints can be identified as Sitha, Cecilia, Dorothy, Juliana, Agnes, Petronella, Helena, and Ursula. The baptismal font is of the early 15th century and shows shields, now stripped of their identifying painted arms, on the bowl.
The church also contains a wooden Dutch coffer, of which there are only five in the country, this used to be used for storing books. Another notable feature is that none of the faces on the statues have been erased unlike in other churches of the area.
St Mary the Virgin, Sedgeford, Norfolk
£15,000 National Churches Trust Repair Grant to help fund repairs to the south side of the church roof and drainage system to make the building watertight and warm. This will encourage more people to spend time in the church appreciating its architectural features and to increase community use.
St Mary’s Sedgeford is one of the largest of the Norfolk Round Tower Churches and is a Grade 1 listed building.
Churches with Round Towers were built from Saxon times but for Sedgeford, most opinions now favour a later date. Both stages of the tower, nave and chancel were probably all built at the same time in the late 13th Century.
Before the Reformation of 1534, the church was in the care of the Prior and Monks of Norwich Priory. There are no written records about the Church building until 1780, when the chancel was shortened, after the collapse of the east end of the chancel. The Priest’s door seen in the south wall near the corner, shows how much the Chancel was shortened, for the usual position for such a door would be about halfway along.
The Font is 13th century Norman style with a square bowl of Purbeck marble. This is the oldest part of the church. By 1841 the church had become so dilapidated that the congregation had to use their umbrellas inside the church and it needed a restoration programme. This took place in 1882, resulting in a new roof, pews and furniture. This was paid for by the Rolfe family.
The church has an old organ of considerable historic importance, which was built by W.C. Mack of Great Yarmouth in 1862. The organ has been awarded a historic organ certificate by the British Institute of Organ Studies. It is listed on their register of historic pipe organs as an instrument of importance and one deserving careful preservation for the benefit of future generations.
Pictures of both churches courtesy of National Churches Trust
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