Diocese of Chichester


Three churches will be able to proceed with repairs this year thanks to awards from the National Churches Trust Medium Grants Scheme announced in December.

On 28 jan 2024

In Diocese of Chichester

By comms

The grants total £21,000 and will enable each church to complete repair work and continue to offer a warm welcome to worshippers and visitors.

St Nicolas, Icklesham in East Sussex is a rural, Grade I listed church that received a total of £10,000K from two sources, the National Churches Trust and the Headley Trust. This will allow for repair work to the north-facing roof and the boiler house roof, both of which require re-tiling.

St Nicolas is popular with visitors all year round. Like most churches it has been altered and added to over the years but there are signs of the church dating from the early Norman period, if not before.

Revd Jonathan Meyer, the Rector of Winchelsea and Icklesham said: “We were very grateful to receive a grant from the National Churches Trust for work required to the roof at St Nicolas, Icklesham. The church is an exceptionally beautiful Norman building dating to around 1100 with some interesting early features.

“Like so many churches, it was altered slightly in the 19th century by the distinguished Victorian architect Samuel Sanders Teulon. However much of the early work remains. Interestingly, Icklesham does not appear in Domesday book. It is thought that, as it was already held by the Abbey of Fecamp in Normandy, it was considered to be under Norman jurisdiction before the conquest. That is why the church’s dedication uses the French spelling ‘Nicolas’, of which the locals are proud. The church was a stopping place for pilgrims en-route to Santiago in the Middle Ages, and Crusader crosses and other graffiti can be seen on some of the Norman columns.

“The work required is on the north side of the steeply pitched roof where tiles were deteriorating, and we were close to ingress of water which would have necessitated more extensive work and far higher costs.

“We are open mostly during daylight hours and as the church is on the 1066 walking route there are quite a lot of passing visitors. Last year we received £10,000 in donations from the cashless giving machine alone.”

St Pancras Church in Arlington, East Sussex. (main picture)
This Grade I listed church received an £8,000 Wolfson Fabric Repair Grant from the Wolfson Foundation, a scheme which is administered by the National Churches Trust. This will pay for urgent repairs to the roof and the gutters.

Irene Flynn is the Secretary of the Friends of St Pancras Arlington whose task it was to raise £113,000 to complete the project. She said:; “It is a big ask for a small rural community. We have all worked really hard over the last two or three years fundraising to re-shingle the spire and repair the roof of our ancient church. 

“We have applied for several grants throughout the year, and we are very grateful to the Wolfson Foundation, the Benefact Trust, Sussex Historic Churches Trust and the Garfield Weston Foundation, between them awarding us £28,600 This, together with the generous support given to our own fundraising activities, has meant we have now raised the required funds and expect work to start in March of this year.

"This church with Saxon and Roman heritage has stood in our village for 1000 years. Our funding means we can now carry out the urgent works, ensuring that we can pass on this much loved church to future generations to enjoy as we and generations before us have.”
(Image credit: Friends of St Pancras)

St Michael and All Angels, Plumpton East Sussex
This rural, Grade I listed building received £3,500 from the National Churches Trust for a feasibility study to work up plans utilising the church as a shared space, capable of continued use as a place of worship and while also enhancing use as a community facility and lecture room.

Michael Howard is the Churchwarden at St Michael and All Angels, which is situated in the centre of Plumpton College and provides a valued space for its agricultural students to find peace and quiet.

He said, “Although a Roof Repair Fund grant was awarded in 2017 which enabled the church roof to be repaired, the stonework, particularly in the tower, is exhibiting signs of significant decay. There is a risk that external decay will lead to internal damage to the important medieval wall paintings. Indeed, St Michael’s was added to the Heritage at Risk register recently.

“The church is open weekly in term time and serves the wider community for weddings, baptisms, funerals and burials. Many local families have deep connections with the church as past students or employees.

“Its long history roots it in the land and is a reminder to students of those who cared for the environment in previous generations. The contribution of the church at festivals, Remembrance, and as a weekly open space is appreciated by the College, which is a vibrant hub for young people, most of whom have little contact with churches. In using the building, they can become familiar with the place and the message it holds.

“We now have a wonderful opportunity for the church to work in partnership with the College, which will give St Michael’s a new lease of life as a multipurpose church centre, that serves its context, continues to be a place of worship and preserves its heritage for another thousand years.”