The Saving the Heritage, Sustaining the Community Timeline
Thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund grant, development of this project is underway.
Click on the Timeline links or scroll down the page and join the journey.
The floor is nearing completion, some edging tiles still needing repairs. The font is now in its new position, and has been used for its first Baptism. The kitchen in the West end of the North Aisle is almost complete, with just the tiling to be finished, electrics to be connected, and Oak folding doors to be fitted. Toilets are now fitted out, with tiling yet to be done, and door locks and some other fitting to be put in this week. It is hoped to have everything fully operational for the Summer Fete.
Work continuing apace with the reordering. The toilet cubicles are now well under construction. The wooden floor has been taken up to make necessary repairs.
An historic Somerset church has been awarded National Lottery funding to help tackle isolation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Grade I Listed St Peter and All Hallows in West Huntspill has been awarded £678,200 by The National Lottery Heritage Fund for essential repairs and to become a vital hub for the community.
Plans for the church were already in development before the pandemic began, but were reshaped to put the church at the heart of addressing the impacts on the community and surrounding areas.
Consultation for the project has demonstrated a rise in isolation, mental health issues and digital poverty and a decreased sense of community connectivity. Since the pandemic began the local school has reported a rise in those on pupil premium and neighbouring Highbridge South West has moved from being Somerset’s 6th most deprived ward to being its most deprived ward as well as within the 10% most deprived neighbourhoods in England.
The National Lottery funded project particularly aims to reach those who are elderly, disadvantaged or isolated and children and young people.
- Creating a talking café with IT support at the church to help reduce isolation and address digital skills gaps which are making people less connected
- Installing an honesty café with locally sourced products and toilet and kitchen facilities to enable groups to use the church
- Running community exhibitions and a range of activities
- Introducing Scout achievement badges and resources for school
The project will also carry out essential repairs to the at risk Grade I Listed church, particularly to the stonework and roof of the tower.
Originally established in 1208, St Peter and All Hallows is known regionally as the ‘Cathedral of the Levels’ and was once at the centre of the harbour village of Huntspill before the Bristol Channel Tsunami of 1607 destroyed much of the village. New interpretation will tell the story of the site’s long history.
The church now sits on the edge of West Huntspill. With public access from the churchyard to the South West Coastal Path, a maternity roost of bats and a vantage point over a heronry on the River Parrott, St Peter and All Hallows has some incredible natural heritage to share with the local community and tourists, which will form another key part of the project.
David Lemon Project Coordinator at St Peter and All Hallows said: “Without this funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, it would not be possible to either maintain this beautiful historic building or adapt it for today’s community needs. During the eight hundred years, that a Church has stood on this site it has continually developed and changed to meet the changing needs of that community, and this is another step on that journey.
“In two recent village surveys it was very evident that the community needed a centre or hub to reduce isolation and grow a united community, which this carefully designed reordering of the west end of the Church will do.”
Stuart McLeod, Director London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Heritage has an essential role to play in making communities a better place to live and in supporting personal wellbeing, so we are delighted to support this project which aims to put historic St Peter and All Hallows at the heart of making a positive change for people impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.”
Ann Gunnell-Parker, resident of West Huntspill and Parish Councillor, said: “I was pleased to attend a meeting a St Peter and All Hallows Church on Saturday 11th December to gain an understanding of the plans for the development of a community hub in the church. During the meeting I was amazed by the huge amount of work that has already gone into this project and by the extent of the planned works.
“These works include the removal of the pews to the west of the entrance which will allow space for community events and enable the current “kitchen” area to be moved to the main body of the church to form a community cafe. The current kitchen area will become a storage area and much needed toilets will be installed. Toilets will facilitate so many activities including scout group sleep overs and attracting Coast Path walkers to the community cafe. Indeed, there were so many ideas for events ready to be activated once the work is complete and most of them are dependent upon toilet facilities being available. I look forward to seeing how the funding and the work progresses.”
Steve Davis, Headmaster at West Huntspill School, said: “Everyone at West Huntspill Primary School (part of The Priory Learning Trust) were delighted to hear that The National Lottery Heritage Fund grant application has been successful. This will be fantastic for the whole community and have such a positive impact on how the school can build further links with our local church. The new toilets will mean the children can now use the church and its grounds for fieldwork and historical exploration as well as at special festivals and celebrations throughout the year”
A much-loved Somerset church is to share in a £473,700 funding package from the National Churches Trust.
A £10,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will help fund urgent repairs and work to St Peter and All Hallows and keep the church at the heart of the local community.
The church also receives a £10,000 Wolfson Fabric Repair Grant from the Wolfson Foundation, on the recommendation of the National Churches Trust.
The work will help to remove the church from Historic England’s ‘At Risk’ Register.
Broadcaster and journalist Huw Edwards, Vice President of The National Churches Trust, said:
“I’m delighted that the beautiful church of St Peter and All Hallows, Huntspill is being helped with a £10,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant and a £10,000 Wolfson Fabric Repair Grant.”
“The grants will help fund much needed repairs to the tower and roof, and installing a kitchen and toilets. This will safeguard unique and much loved local heritage and help St Peter and All Hallows continue to support local people.”
A total of 47 churches and chapels in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will benefit from the latest grants from the National Churches Trust, the charity supporting church buildings of all Christian denominations across the UK. £155,700 of the £473,000 grant funding has been provided by the Wolfson Foundation.
In 2021 the National Churches Trust has awarded or recommended 273 grants totalling £3.67 million to help keep church buildings open and in good repair. The total includes £2 million from the Heritage Stimulus Fund, part of the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund.
Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive at the Wolfson Foundation, said:
“As well as being the spiritual heart of their communities, churches remain a vital part of the UK’s heritage and history. We know that it can be challenging for churches to access funding to keep these remarkable buildings in good repair, particularly in the wake of the pandemic. We are therefore delighted to continue our work with the National Churches Trust in supporting the preservation of churches across the UK.”
Twenty-seven churches, from Moray in north-east Scotland to Callington in Cornwall, will benefit from a share of £155,700 in the latest round of the Wolfson Fabric Repairs Grants programme with the National Churches Trust.
This latest round of funding takes the number of churches funded through the Wolfson Fabric Repairs scheme in 2021 to 67.
St Peter and All Hallows is known as one of the best country churches in Somerset, which is often called The Cathedral of the Levels.
A Christian community is believed to have existed at Huntspill since AD 796 when, during the reign of the Saxon King Offa, the Manor and land at Huntspill was given to Glastonbury Abbey. Huntspill is listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Honspil.
There has been a church on this site since 1194. It was rebuilt in the 1400’s and restored to its former glory after a fire in 1878. Today, the pillars are still a unique red/orange colour as a result of the fire.
The church features distinctive architectural details include cinque-foil cusped perpendicular windows, stone carved gargoyles and embattlements. The Tower is believed to have been built in the 15th Century.
Within the village, the church is the only Grade I Listed building and the church and its tower is key to the identity of the village.
The work will include repairs to the tower and roof, and installing a kitchen and toilets.
David Lemon, Project Coordinator, said
“St Peter and All Hallows Church Parochial Church Council are very pleased to receive a Cornerstone grant of £10,000 from the National Churches Trust, and a further Fabric Repair Grant of £10,000 from the Wolfson Foundation.”
“This will be an important part of funding for a major Tower restoration and the reordering of the West end of the church. Work on the Tower will repair the crumbling stone, on the part of the church which has stood as a local landmark for more than 500 years, and make the building waterproof again.”
“The reordering in the West end of this large village church will provide toilets and improved catering facilities making this a much-needed community hub for the village and surrounding area whilst maintaining the flexibility to hold large services when needed. The church will also be an ideal destination for the ‘heritage tourist’, being so close to the National Coastal Path as well as Burnham-on-Sea, Berrow and Brean.”
December 2021: Member of Parliament for Bridgwater & West Somerset, Ian Liddell-Grainger, visits Church Tower
Saving the Heritage, Sustaining the Community
The project team at St Peter & All Hallows Church, West Huntspill were delighted to welcome the Member of Parliament for Bridgwater & West Somerset Ian Liddell-Grainger to the Church to see the plans to repair the Church Tower and to re-order the west end into a community hub open to all.
Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger pictured with the project team was very supportive of all the work that has been done so far, interested, and enthusiastic about the future plans.
September 2019: St Peter and All Hallows Church West Huntspill wins National Lottery Heritage Fund support
St Peter and All Hallows Church has received a development grant of £97,100 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) for their ‘Saving the Heritage, Sustaining the Community’ project, it was announced today.
Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the project team can now work with architects, conservators and the community to plan the project in greater detail. The project aims to celebrate the heritage of the church, a Grade 1 listed building, by providing a better welcome and interpretation of our long and significant history, and building closer relationships with different communities in the area, including disadvantaged groups and local residents.
This is the first of three phases enabling us to sustain the building for greater community cohesion and create a hub for village life. ‘The Saving the Heritage, Sustaining the Community’ project has several objectives, including
- Tackling urgent masonry repairs to the tower;
- Installing essential toilets and kitchenette;
- Focusing on the natural history and biodiversity in our graveyard and village including bats and a heronry, encouraging walkers from the nearby coastal path to visit, as well as local people to enjoy circular walks from the church to improve health and wellbeing;
- Delivering a programme of targeted activities for elderly and isolated residents, primary school children, young people, walkers, as well as local people and holiday makers interested in the history of the building and the village;
- Providing permanent interpretation and displays about the church in its parish.
St Peter and All Hallows is a living building, which has changed and evolved over the centuries: the changing needs of the congregation and the village, as well as normal wear and tear and weathering, are part of the continuing life of the building. An area around the tower is currently fenced off to prevent falling masonry injuring passers-by: National Lottery support for this project will make the tower safe and ensure the future of the church in the life of West Huntspill.
The National Lottery Heritage Fund grant applications over £250,000 are assessed in two rounds St Peter and All Hallows Church Tower Project has initially been granted round one development funding of £97,100 by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, allowing it to progress with its plans. Detailed proposals are then considered by The National Lottery Fund at a second round, where a final decision is made on the full funding award of £493,600.
Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.
Commenting on the award, Project Co-ordinator David Lemon said: “We’re delighted that we’ve received this initial support thanks to National Lottery players. This award means that we can start planning the project in detail before submitting our final application within the next 18 months.”
For further information, images and interviews please contact (David Lemon) at St Peter and All Hallows Church on telephone 01278 783173 or [email protected]
St Peter and All Hallows Church is the Parish Church of the rural village of West Huntspill and hamlet of Alstone. Since 2015 the Church has been open daily during daylight hours, this has proved very successful with many visitors to the historic Church. Click to view full Statement of Need document.
Statement of Significance
Within the village, the Church is the only Grade 1 listed building, confirming high national significance of the building as a whole. The presence of the Tower in the landscape is of high significance to the identity of the village. The Views from the Tower, which dominates the landscape, are spectacular: to the east and south east, the Somerset Levels to Glastonbury Tor; to the west, the Parrot Estuary, Bridgwater Bay, Steart Flats Nature Reserve, and the Quantock Hills; to the north west, the coastline at Burnham-On-Sea, the Bristol Channel and Wales in the distance. Not only are the views from the Tower spectacular but the Tower is a well-known landmark, being seen by passing traffic on the M5. Click to view full Statement of Significance document.