St Peter’s Church Forncett.
St Peter’s Church Forncett. Photo credit Mathew McDade

St Peter’s Church receives a lifeline grant from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund

St Peter’s Church, Forncett St Peter, in Norfolk, has received a financial boost from the government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help fund specialist investigations during the corona virus pandemic.

Lifeline grants from the Culture Recovery Fund are designed to protect heritage sites and ensure that jobs and access to culture and heritage in local communities are protected during the months ahead.

St Peter’s has been awarded £24,000 for essential surveying and investigative work to determine the causes and extent of water penetration and cracking of flint and stonework which critically threaten this 1000 year old building. It will include assessment of a possible hidden wall painting and a bat roost.  The grant comes at a crucial point allowing specifications for competitive tenders to be generated in order to take the essential repair work forward.  If left much longer, damage to this much-loved church would have been beyond repair.

Grants of up to £25,000 are being allocated to cherished heritage sites, like St. Peter’s, across the country to cover urgently needed maintenance and repairs. This vital funding comes from a part of the Culture Recovery Fund called the Heritage Stimulus Fund and is administered on behalf of the government by Historic England.

As well as rescuing precious heritage buildings in need, the injection of cash will protect livelihoods for some of the most vulnerable heritage specialists and contractors working in the sector.

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said: “These grants will help the places that have shaped our skylines for hundreds of years and that continue to define culture in our towns and cities. We’re protecting heritage and culture in every corner of the country to save jobs and ensure it’s there for future generations to enjoy.”

St Peter’s Church has played an important role in the community since it was built around 1000AD. The Grade 1 listed building has what is considered the best Anglo-Saxon round tower in the country with other important Saxon features including herringbone pattern in the flint work. An exceptionally rare c15/16th century wooden stair in the tower, restored medieval carved pew ends and the 1485 alabaster tomb with rare inlay contribute to its national importance.  The church has an active spiritual life with regular services (currently suspended due to Covid restrictions and a fall of plaster) and has also been used for many community events, celebrations and cultural events. Toilets, a small kitchen and improved heating are a vital part of plans to develop this much needed centre for community life.

Reverend Lydia Avery, Priest in Charge of St Peter’s Church, said, “This generous funding from the Culture Recovery Fund, will make a huge difference to the restoration of St Peter’s Church and gives hope to our community for its planned future as a vibrant church and community hub.”

Duncan Wilson, Historic England Chief Executive said: “Historic places across the country are being supported by the Government’s grants awarded under the Culture Recovery Fund. This funding is a lifeline which is kick-starting essential repairs and maintenance at many of our most precious historic sites, so they can begin to recover from the damaging effects of COVID-19.

“It is also providing employment for skilled craft workers who help keep historic places alive and the wheels of the heritage sector turning. Our shared heritage is an anchor for us all in these challenging times and this funding will help to ensure it remains part of our collective future.”

St Peter’s Church
The iconic Anglo-Saxon round tower. Photo credit Ana Moskvina

Friends of St Peter’s Forncett



About the Culture Recovery Fund

The government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund is designed to secure the future of Britain’s heritage sites as well as museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas and music venues with emergency grants and loans.

£1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund is divided into categories for Heritage, Arts and Film. In England, it is administered on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport by the arms-length bodies Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England and the British Film Institute.

Funding for Heritage:

The £50mHeritage Stimulus Fund is administered at arms-length by Historic England

The £88m Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage is a joint fund, allocated at arms-length by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

About Historic England

We are Historic England, the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. We protect, champion and save the places that define who we are and where we’ve come from as a nation. We care passionately about the stories they tell, the ideas they represent and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists we share our passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all.

 Friends of St Peter's, Forncett Logo

About the Friends of St Peter’s

The Friends of St Peter’s was formed in October 2019 as a community response to the extremely serious problems affecting the church noted in structural surveys. Working as a sub-committee of the Upper Tas Valley All Saints Parochial Church Council, the FoSP has been fortunate to draw on the skills and relevant experience of local people and the expert advice of the Diocese of Norwich Historic Building Support Worker. It is running a major campaign to raise in excess of £750,000 for crucial repairs and renovations. A campaign in 2006-08 by Forncett PCC saw £120,000 raised for essential repairs to the iconic round tower.