Youth-focused heritage funding for Mid Norfolk church
A medieval church in Beeston-next-Mileham has been granted £29,100 from the Heritage Lottery Fund allowing it to progress plans to repair the Grade I listed building and involve young people from the nearby school in the process, giving them insight into a range of careers.
Beeston Parochial Church Council (PCC) has been successful in the first round of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant for its ‘Repairs, Careers and Community Engagement’ project, focused on the Church of St Mary the Virgin in Beeston-next-Mileham in Mid Norfolk.
The PCC was awarded a development grant of £29,100 to progress plans and apply a for a full National Lottery grant of £199,900. The project aims to secure the physical future of St Mary’s, including repairing its tower roof, parapet and walls as well as the chancel ceiling and roof, all of which are at great risk. It will also offer a wide range of activities for the local community to learn about, discover and enjoy the building.
During the project development phase a group of fifteen Year 8 and 9 students, aged 12-14 years, from Litcham School will attend a series of ‘Planning & Development’ days at the church to learn about its history and architecture and the practical issues involved in conservation, project management and budgeting. They will in the process gain an insight into the related professions involved in the many aspects of applying for, planning and carrying out a major conservation project.
If the project is successful in securing the full grant for the second stage of the project, the students will have the opportunity to make links and contacts which could result in work experience placements and to think about possible career choices. They will also discuss priorities for church use and its evolution from the viewpoint of young people, and the role of the church and its buildings in the community, providing a very useful input from the project point of view as the PCC seeks to understand the thoughts and wishes of young people and to get them involved in shaping the project. The students will therefore act as a Development Phase ‘Focus Group’.
Further plans include Careers Ambition Days for the high school students and a newly designed ‘Heritage Pathway' linking four local churches, which will encourage families to walk or cycle between the buildings, supported by a new trail and interpretive scheme, all revolving around St Mary’s as its hub.
Andrew Lawrence, Churchwarden at St Mary’s and Project Manager said: ‘We are delighted that the National Lottery has given us this development grant. It will enable us to understand fully the extent of the repairs that are needed and to explore St Mary’s church as a hub for the local community, developing it as learning resource for all ages. We are particularly excited about the partnership we have developed with Litcham School and look forward to working with their young people as they help to shape this project through its development phase, which we hope will lead to a successful delivery phase’.
The church, which is Grade I listed, is an almost entirely 14th and 15th century building and this essentially medieval interior has proven of great interest to local schools and visitors alike. There are still significant areas of medieval paintwork and decoration visible around the church – and the project will focus on repairing and interpreting this fine medieval building.
Photo: © Copyright Adrian S Pye and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence (cropped to landscape)