A new lease of life for a Norfolk church

St Andrew’s Church in Walpole, Norfolk, is enjoying the prospect of a new lease of life among a community that values it and cares for it.

For many decades the church has been suffering as a result of unfavourable environmental conditions, which have caused serious stone decay.

Under damp conditions, the salt in the building’s stone begins to form crystals. As each crystal grows, it expands within the matrix of the stone causing it to gradually fissure and crack until the stone itself erodes away. St Andrew’s lost its lead covering when it was targeted by thieves in 2011, and spent six years under temporary cover, which has made the damage worse.

St Andrew's, Walpole
© John Vigar

The establishment of the Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund – a government-sponsored grant scheme – in 2015 offered an opportunity to secure much-needed help. In the second round of applications in 2016, St Andrew’s was given its lifeline. The church was awarded a £100,000 grant towards the re-leading of the south aisle and related roof timber repairs, which will protect the building from the elements.

The grant, combined with a wonderful and inspiring resurgence of interest and commitment from the small local community, has set St Andrew’s on the road to a brighter future.

But many historic churches in England, from Cumbria to Kent to the far corner of Cornwall, currently have no such lifeline. It is only through ambitious, innovative, and collaborative work that we will be able to help them all.