In 2014, St Margaret’s church was placed on the Heritage at Risk Register by Historic England, who assessed its condition as ‘very bad’. Urgent repairs were needed to the roof, stonework, windows, and drainage, and without these the building was in danger of deteriorating rapidly.
The projected cost of repairs was far in excess of anything we could hope to raise even through dedicated fundraising. So Luddington Parochial Church Council applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for grant funding to cover the cost of urgent repairs and restoration of the church building.
Our first round application was successful, and in January 2015 we were awarded a development phase grant of £20,400 to allow us to work up detailed plans for the repair project, and also plans for a new heating system. We also planned how we could attract more visitors to appreciate the historical interest and the potential for wildlife conservancy of the church and churchyard.
Our second round application was submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund in late November 2015, and in March 2016 we learned that we had been awarded a delivery phase grant of £159,400, through their Grants for Places for Worship programme, enabling us to complete the project.
The grant covered the repairs to the roof, rainwater goods, masonry, and windows, as well as upgrading the ground water drainage system and installing a heating system.
Repairs and renovations started in 2016 and were finally completed in 2018. As a direct result of this HLF grant-funded project, St Margaret’s church has been removed from the Historic England Heritage at Risk Register.
In addition to the extensive renovations, the grant has also allowed us to develop a wide range of activities to attract people to visit the historic building and surrounds, and to create materials to publicise these.
Research has been undertaken to understand the history of the village landscape and changing settlement patterns, and an exceptional interpretation of this history can be viewed inside the church.
A circular walk has been created which takes you along the footpaths that wind through the village, outlining changes to the village since pre-Roman times.
The churchyard is being managed to encourage more wildlife, and we have applied for a Conservation Churchyard Award. A geocache has been hidden in the churchyard too. Please visit the Geocaching website for more information about this global pastime.
A welcome leaflet has been produced, and a children’s church trail has been developed in conjunction with The Arts Society (formerly NADFAS). Both are available to visitors to the church.
The grant funding also covered the costs of developing a website, which you see here 🙂
A selection of photographs showing the project over the last couple of years can be seen here.
We are incredibly lucky to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, and also to both Northamptonshire County Council and East Northamptonshire Council for small grants from our County and District Councillors. We are also extremely grateful to all those who have worked on the project at various stages along the way. The grant has enabled us to restore the building and to preserve it for future generations to enjoy – an important outcome by itself, but additionally the grant has also allowed us to develop ways to enable more people to visit this lovely building and surrounds.