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Boost for Norfolk historic round tower churches 

A society which celebrates and supports round tower churches, the majority of which are in Norfolk, is set to celebrate its 50th anniversary next year.

A boost in membership of the Round Tower Churches Society was reported at the latest annual meeting on Saturday, May 7.
 
As the Society prepares to celebrate its golden jubilee next year, it hopes to reach the 500 membership milestone during the coming months. Membership secretary Nick Wiggin said that 41 new members had joined the Society, which now has 487 supporters.
 
“We’re aiming to get to 500 members. This will help support and fund repairs and conservation of these distinctive round tower churches,” he told the 48th annual meeting at Seething village hall.
 
The Society, founded in 1973, has awarded almost £50,000 in grants to more than a dozen churches in the past four years. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, many churches were unable to carry out pressing repair work and so the Society only paid £2,500 in grants in the year ending March 31 as against £13,200 in the previous year.
 
However, in the past three months, it has awarded £16,000 to three churches, including its largest ever single grant of £7,000 for St Andrew’s, Mutford, near Beccles, for urgent repairs to the tallest round tower in Suffolk. In addition, £5,000 has been given to St Michael and All Angels, Geldeston and £4,000 to St Mary, Rickinghall Inferior, near Diss, for repairs.
 
Members had been extremely generous in adding donations to the annual subscription income of £11,622 last year. While the Society had inevitably lost members, there was a net increase on the year from 481.
 
Of the country’s 184 round tower churches, 124 are in Norfolk, 38 in Suffolk, with a handful in Cambridgeshire, Essex, Sussex and Berkshire.
 
The society also runs monthly Saturday summer tours to round tower churches with the next on June 11 meeting at Edingthorpe, 2.30pm, then Beeston St Lawrence and Ashmanhaugh, with guides ‘Lyn Stilgoe, Richard Barham and Michael Pollitt.
 
Pictured is St Michael and All Angels, Geldeston, awarded a grant by the Round Tower Churches Society. Picture by Simon Knott.
 
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Keith Morris, 15/05/2022

Keith Morris
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