A man in high-vis jacket and hard hat works on the tower wall from a cherry picker.

The round tower of St Mary the Virgin Church, now roofless, is possibly the largest diameter round church tower in England © Historic England. Photographed by Lucy Millson-Watkins
The round tower of St Mary the Virgin Church, now roofless, is possibly the largest diameter round church tower in England © Historic England. Photographed by Lucy Millson-Watkins

27 Suffolk Historic Places of Worship Restored Thanks to Government Pilot Scheme

A £1.8 million pilot scheme to help support listed places of worship has provided grants towards repairs at 54 historic buildings in its first year.

The Taylor Review Pilot scheme, which was launched in September 2018, provides advice, guidance and financial support to listed places of worship of all faiths and denominations in Suffolk and Manchester in order to build a sustainable future for these important historic buildings. It is funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and run by Historic England.

In total, 54 places of worship have received support and been offered advice, with work underway on a number of other projects as the pilot enters its final year.

We are delighted that the Taylor Review Pilot has successfully repaired and restored 54 listed faith buildings in its inaugural year. We look forward to continuing to work with local communities nationwide to help maintain some of our most important places of worship.

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive, Historic England

Suffolk received 27 grants, with the Church of St Mary the Virgin Wortham, St Mary’s Church Rickinghall Inferior and five historic churches in the Southwold area benefiting from funding and support.

Church of St Mary the Virgin, Wortham, Suffolk

Church from across the grave yard with man in a cherry picker accessing the stonework of the tower on the left.
Church of St Mary the Virgin, Wortham © Historic England. Photographed by Lucy Millson-Watkins

Grade I listed Church of St Mary the Virgin was built in the 12th century. Its ancient round tower, now roofless, is possibly the largest diameter round church tower in England. The church possesses medieval stone carvings, Victorian pews and medieval and contemporary stained glass windows. Funding from the Taylor Review pilot enabled the removal of vegetation and repairs to the porch roof, walls and vestry roof.

…Working through the process has heightened my awareness of the church building and how to care for it… None of the work would have been undertaken without the help and guidance of Historic England.

Cathy Hume, Church of St Mary the Virgin

St Mary’s Church Rickinghall Inferior

Church exterior photographed with old grave stones in the foreground .
St Mary’s Church Rickinghall Inferior © Historic England. Photographed by Chris Redgrave

Grade I listed St Mary's Church dates from the 12th century, with architectural features added during the 14th, 16th and 19th centuries. Taylor Review Pilot funding enabled the replacement of missing roof tiles and leaking gutters. Through the pilot, supporters of the church are being enabled to develop skills, scope potential volunteer roles and create a Friends Group to engage with the non-worshipping local community.

Southwold Area Churches

Southwold Area Churches received support to create a maintenance cooperative where skills will be shared between the five churches. © Historic England. Photographed by Ben Sage

Five multi-denominational historic churches in the Southwold area – Sacred Heart, St Edmund King and Martyr, the United Reform Church, Church of St Mary and Church of St Peter & St Paul – received support to create a maintenance cooperative where skills will be shared between the five churches.

Funding from the Taylor Review pilot also enabled repairs to the roof at the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church and repair work to the Church of St Mary in Raydon.

…there is no doubt that this kind of support from Historic England will be critical to sustaining our precious listed Places of Worship for the future.

Cedric Burton, Southwold Area Churches

The interim report of the Taylor Review Pilot has been published today (13 January 2020) by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

It sets out evidence from the first seven months of the scheme (September 2018 to March 2019) and identifies some valuable lessons learned during this time.

The final report is expected to be published in summer 2020.

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