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£2million Government project helps protect over 250 listed places of worship in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 00:01 03 October 2020

Volunteers at St Mary's Church, Rickinghall Picture: CHRIS REDGRAVE/ HISTORIC ENGLAND

Volunteers at St Mary's Church, Rickinghall Picture: CHRIS REDGRAVE/ HISTORIC ENGLAND

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A pilot scheme run by the Government has helped to look after over 250 of Suffolk’s listed places of worship.

Volunteers at St Mary's Church in Nettlestead Picture: TOM KUPPER/ HISTORIC ENGLANDVolunteers at St Mary's Church in Nettlestead Picture: TOM KUPPER/ HISTORIC ENGLAND

The project, known as The Taylor Review Pilot, looked at 259 sites across Suffolk and ran from September 2018 to March 2020.

The aim of the pilot was to test a recommended model from the 2017 Taylor Review: Sustainability of English Churches and Cathedrals, for how listed places of worship could become more sustainable through regular maintenance and repair and wider community involvement.

From new volunteers coming forward to help with repairs, to inspiring new visitors with engaging storytelling and creating community spaces with a sense of belonging, participants gained confidence in prioritising urgent repairs and reaching out to help local communities enjoy these amazing buildings.

The pilot offered free support and advice for listed places of worship of all faiths and denominations. Work focused on Greater Manchester and Suffolk, to provide urban and rural contexts for the review’s recommendations.

St Mary's Church at Rickinghall Picture: CHRIS REDGRAVE/ HISTORIC ENGLANDSt Mary's Church at Rickinghall Picture: CHRIS REDGRAVE/ HISTORIC ENGLAND

The pilot has supported 49% of all listed places of worship in Suffolk.

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Grant funding awarded through the Taylor Review Pilot enabled necessary maintenance and minor repair work to be brought forward by 2-5 years on average.

It has helped 71 listed places of worship in Suffolk to carry out essential repair and maintenance work, protecting treasured historic buildings for local communities.

St Peter's Church Sibton Picture: TOM KUPPER/HISTORIC ENGLANDSt Peter's Church Sibton Picture: TOM KUPPER/HISTORIC ENGLAND

Heritage Minister Nigel Huddleston said: Heritage Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “Places of worship are vital to our local communities. I am pleased that this pilot scheme, funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has been such a success in helping so many buildings. By protecting these places of worship, we are bringing together communities, engaging visitors, and preserving our heritage for future generations to enjoy.”

Duncan Wilson, chief executive, Historic England said: “This pilot has proved how a ‘stitch in time’ approach really works and it has successfully helped 259 listed places of worship in Suffolk over the past two years.

“Addressing small repairs has increased understanding that doing even the smallest job makes a big difference to keeping these extraordinary places running. It’s been wonderful to see local communities engaged and supporters dedicated to the care of historic places of worship.”

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