A message from our Rector, the Revd. Brenda Stewart
Since moving to Wells in 2018 I have been struck by the wonderful community spirit and passion for the heritage and history of this very special place. At St Nicholas I have a team who are committed to ensuring that our wonderful building, rebuilt after the devastating fire 140 years ago and which sits on a site where there has been a place of worship for over 800 years, continues to play an active and vital part in the town it serves. But we do need your help.
Revd Brenda Stewart
What needs to be done?
• The five-yearly Inspection Report, and subsequent high level surveys have identified the following defects to the structure of the church, which require urgent remedial work, among them:
• Tower: significant and serious cracks and open joints in the tower parapet; repairs to the sound openings and the tower staircase; belfry tie-rods.
• Roof: corroding rainwater goods, defective slates and flashings on the chancel and nave; cracked lead-work on the north and south aisle roofs that is contributing to the current leaks.
• Buttresses and the porch parapet stonework are severely decayed.
• Windows require attention: corroding ironwork is damaging stonework and glass.
• Major face-work repairs.
Historic England is the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment. After an inspection of our Grade II* listed church in October 2018 by their expert advisers, St Nicholas has been placed on the National Heritage At Risk List.
We have inherited this fine building which in many ways has remained at the heart of our community for over 800 years.
It continues to draw people to its peace and tranquillity as well as to its worship. Open daily, it is now more than ever a safe and welcoming place for all: for special occasions in times of joy and sorrow, family activities, our schools, concerts and drama, a craft market, drop-ins and exhibitions. The refurbished bells are regularly rung by the flourishing bell-ringing team.
The church’s Heritage is a valuable asset loved and visited by many, far and wide.
A few years ago the community of Wells very generously responded to an Appeal for the superb new stone floor. Our restoration project will safeguard this vital community building long into the future ……. Can you help us again?
Facts & Figures
- Total estimated repair costs: £310,000
- St Nicholas PCC restoration funds already available: £30,000
- Norfolk Churches trust already pledged: £5,000
- LOCAL FUNDRAISING TARGET £20,000
Restoration Appeal Update: Good news! Press release 20/3/20
Well, Well, Wells! The Restoration of St. Nicholas Church, Wells-next-the-Sea secures National Lottery support
Wells Parochial Church Council has received initial support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for Well, Well, Wells! The Restoration of St. Nicholas Church, Wells-next-the-Sea. This has been made possible by National Lottery players. The project aims to restore the building, which is on the Heritage England At Risk Register, and will also deliver innovative new activities and interpretation of the heritage of the building, churchyards, enabling us to forge stronger links with the wider community.
Development funding of £39,200 has been awarded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to help Wells Parochial Church Council progress their plans to apply for a full National Lottery grant at a later date.
In addition to restoring St. Nicholas Church we plan to establish it as a heritage learning hub in partnership with other providers across the town. The project will also deliver a new interpretative scheme linked to the successfully established scheme at Wells Maltings and the “Wonderful Wells” Town Trail, which uses the church as its hub but is also available at multiple outlets – including Wells Harbour. As part of the project, a new wellbeing conservation area will be created within the churchyard, ‘hard hat’ days will be held, and training programmes for teachers, church volunteers and town guides will be delivered. People of all ages will be involved in the creation and delivery of activities, ensuring that heritage is better explained and interpreted and that new skills and learning have been achieved.
St. Nicholas Church is a focal point for the local community, used for church services, as well as many community, school, and concert groups. The church is a Grade II* building situated in the central Conservation Area of the town of Wells-next-the-Sea. Originally built in the 13th century, with a large scale restoration taking place around 1460, it was destroyed by a devastating fire in 1879. The only part to survive was the medieval tower and the main body of the church was re-built in 1883.
Commenting on the award, Revd. Brenda Stewart said “We’re delighted that we’ve received this support and would like to say a huge thanks to National Lottery players. St. Nicholas Church has always been such an important building in Wells-next-the-Sea and it’s great to know that we are a step closer to preserving it for future generations of local people and visitors to our town. We’re also very excited about the community projects that are being planned and developing our churchyard as a green lung for all.”
October 13th, 2021 We’ve done it…
St Nicholas Church in Wells-next-the-Sea secures National Lottery support
Wells Parochial Church Council has been awarded a National Lottery Heritage Fund Grant of £286,100 for restoration work and to deliver a range of new activities at St Nicholas Church, Wells-next-the-Sea.
The project will safeguard the building, which is on Historic England’s ‘Heritage At Risk Register’, and will deliver innovative activities, including a new interpretive scheme exploring the heritage of the building and its churchyards, enabling the church to forge stronger links with the wider community.
The church is a Grade II* building situated in the central Conservation Area of the town of Wells-next-the-Sea. Originally built in the13th century, with a large scale restoration taking place around 1460, it was destroyed by a devastating fire in 1879. The medieval tower, most of the external walls and the south porch survived the fire and the church was re-built in 1883.
Working with key partners to establish St Nicholas as a heritage and well-being hub for the town, the funding will deliver new activities such as a Heritage Detective Trail and a new well-being conservation area within the churchyard in partnership with the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. The scheme will also link to and support the popular Heritage Centre at Wells Maltings and will deliver public events such as heritage well-being days in partnership with Wells Community Hospital Trust, and Conservation Skills Days where people will be able to meet the project team to learn about the conservation skills used to restore both the building and churchyard.
The project will also reduce the building’s carbon footprint by installing secondary glazing to some windows and introducing a cycle stand in the churchyard to encourage visitors to cycle (or walk!) to the church.
Commenting on the award, Revd. Brenda Stewart said “We’re delighted that we’ve received this support and would like to say a huge thanks to National Lottery players. St Nicholas Church has always been such an important building in Wells-next-the-Sea and it’s great to know that we will now be preserving it for future generations of local people and visitors to our town. We’re also very excited about the project’s activities and interpretation, including the habitat conservation and well-being activities planned in the churchyard. We are very grateful that this has been made possible by money raised by National Lottery players.”
Liz Bates, Head of Investment, Midlands & East said: “We are delighted that our funding award will support St Nicholas Church to remain an important heritage building and continue as a vital and vibrant community hub. A huge thanks to National Lottery players for their support of this restoration project and the new activities, that will impact positively on the health and well-being of the people who live in Wells-next-the-Sea and beyond.”
Did you know?
Parishes are responsible for their own church buildings. Contrary to popular belief, the national ‘Church’s’ (i.e. Church Commissioners’), funds are mainly for clergy pensions, supporting social projects in deprived parts of the country, training, and building churches in new urban areas.
Campbell MacCallum’s photograph of the church tower is reproduced by kind permission of the MacCallum family.