FRIENDS OF NORTON CHURCH
HISTORY OF THE FRIENDS OF
Friends of Norton Church (FNC), was formed in 2005 with the objective of assisting the Parochial Church Council (PCC) of St Mary the Virgin Norton-sub–Hamdon to preserve, protect and restore the fabric of Norton Church.
This objective is primarily achieved through the raising of funds that are then made available, when requested, as grants to the PCC Fabric Fund to assist the PCC fulfil its church fabric responsibilities. In addition to the grants, the FNC provides more general assistance to those responsible for the care and maintenance of the church.
WHO WE ARE
The FNC is open to anyone who supports the objects of the Association. Subscription membership can be applied for through the FNC Committee, details of which are held on the church notice board. The FNC also operates a Wine Club that conducts monthly draws with prize winners being announced in the Norton Newsletter, together with details of how membership can be obtained. New members, both subscribers and of the wine club are very welcome and all who share the objectives are encouraged to become involved in any way they feel able, by initially contacting, the FNC Secretary (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) who will be happy to provide further information.
HOW WE RAISE FUNDS
In addition to the monthly subscriptions and Wine Draw income, the FNC aims to raise further funds through the organisation of “Events” in or near the village. These have taken the form of well attended and much enjoyed presentations (with suitable refreshments) in the village hall or church on subjects recently ranging from the work of the Rhino Trust, to white water rafting on the Colorado, to the conservation and character of the Norton Church Mediaeval Glass. Wider afield FNC events have included a tour and talk on Wigborough Manor and the Vaux Polo stables and facilities. Details of FNC events are promulgated in the Norton Newsletter, Parish Magazine and on village notices. Beyond this, financial donations from individuals have also been made either through the FNC or direct to the PCC for improvements to the appearance, use and historical recording of the church.
CULTURE RECOVERY FUND GRANT
Occasionally, the FNC also assist in applying for financial grants or awards for specific purposes. In January 2021 the Parochial Church Council and Friends of Norton Church were advised that a Culture Recovery Fund had been established to help organisations recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and to reopen. Members of the PCC and FNC bid for an award from this Fund and in April 2021 the PCC Norton-sub-Hamdon was granted a sum of £13,600. It was one of more than 2,700 recipients to benefit from the fund of nearly £400 million.
In common with many organisations, Norton Church had to manage with a reduced income during the pandemic. While costs were reduced where possible, the loss of donations raised through church services and weddings, at monthly coffee mornings, from the FNC talks and presentations and the inability to run the annual Norton Festival had impacted severely. The award helped enormously to offset that loss. It provided funds to cover the routine running costs of the church from April through to July 2021. It also supported the work of the many volunteers who maintain the church and its grounds. The annual service and repair and running costs of mowing machines used by the Norton Mowers was covered by this award. The servicing of the church heating and electrical systems and lightning conductors and the cleaning of the roof gutters and gullies were all funded from the grant. A major internal deep clean of the church and the stained glass windows was covered by the grant that also paid for the cleaning, tuning and setting to work of the church organ, ready for the reopening.
The funds could not be used for capital cost items (so no new mowing machines or boilers) and had to be used (or lost) by 30th June 2021. In a very busy few months the Joint FNC/PCC Fabric sub-committee managed the expenditure of the sum granted. Local companies were used wherever possible to complete the work agreed by the award. In the completion report £13,527 of the original £13,600 awarded was approved and consumed as part of the ongoing preservation and recovery of our Grade 1 listed church and its surrounds for the continued benefit of the local community.
HOW THE MONEY IS USED
The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Norton-sub-Hamdon is a beautiful, historic and prominent Grade 1 listed building that is over 500 years old. The fabric upkeep and repair requirements are mainly identified by a PCC appointed architect who conducts a thorough, independent inspection of the church every 5 years, reporting the findings to the PCC.
These Quinquennial Inspection Reports (QIR) can identify upkeep requirements that are occasionally extensive and often expensive. In addition, emergency repairs identified between inspections may also become necessary priorities.
The QIR identified priority for work from 2009 to 2014 was the restoration or repairs to all 15 windows: the most extensive were for the large west window with installation of two new hamstone mullions and a complete removal and reassembly of the lower half of the glazing.
FNC members were closely involved with the PCC in obtaining external grants for a large part of this work as well as the FNC managed fund raising. The major works from 2014 to 2019 were located at the upper tower – masonry and lead roof repairs – and strengthening of the north aisle timber roof. In the same period extensive emergency repairs were required to the tower pinnacles.
The costs of Works identified in the QIR issued in 2019 by the architect total approximately £255,000. Of necessity, the individual tasks are prioritised and can only be contracted when the actual funds are available.
As part of the Culture Recovery Fund Award expenditure the Architect and a specialist Structural Engineer were contracted to examine the North Wall of the church as there was some evidence of the wall bowing reported in the 2019 QIR. The extensive structural inspection confirmed that there has been movement and a programme of monitoring through regular measurement is being implemented in 2021/22. In addition, in the longer term there likely will be a need for underpinning of the buttresses and the installation of tie bars inside the church. This work will all require funding and the FNC is engaged with the PCC in seeking the routes open for assistance. Any further contributions towards the FNC’s fundraising activities would therefore always be greatly appreciated with many thanks.
While the PCC is currently implementing the recommendations of the 2019 QIR as funds become available, the following illustrations show the extensive Works carried out over the past 10 years by the PCC, with the FNC’s generation of a substantial proportion of the funding and also general support, to maintain the condition of the church.
To find out more about the restoration work that has taken place, click on the link below: