Church restoration is boosted by grant fund from heritage authority

Rayne church will undergo renovations as part of the extensive project. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Rayne church will undergo renovations as part of the extensive project. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

An historic village church has secured a grant worth thousands of pounds which will allow it to begin an ambitious regeneration project.

All Saints Church in Rayne has been awarded a £77,500 grant from the Heritage Fund, part of the National Lottery, meaning work can begin on a project which will see renovations and other ventures involving the community.

Rev Beth Bendrey, rector of All Saints, said: "We've worked hard developing this project, in conjunction with the local community, and we are thrilled that the Heritage Fund has awarded us this grant, the largest ever received by All Saints. Whilst it does benefit the church, it also provides benefits to the local community."

The project, which focuses on increasing use of All Saints Church and promoting the church's history, aims to create a heritage trail with guided tours, provide learning opportunities for and with Rayne Primary School, working with local historians to understand the role of the church in Rayne and how it has changed from Tudor times, opening the church for research, repairing and redecorating the church, repairing damaged stained glass and installing an audio visual system.

The project is expected to cost about £100,000 and will commence within the next 18 months.

Katie Lambert, from Rayne Primary School, said: "Rayne Primary School pupils are looking forward to participating in the project. Our close link with the church will continue to support our learning and we are excited to learn more about the history of Rayne and the church."

There has been a church on the current site for at least 1,000 years. However, in the late 1830s the building was in a poor state of repair and most of it was pulled down and rebuilt, leaving only the Tudor tower, itself a later addition to the original building. There was a further small but significant extension in 1914, when the sanctuary was added.

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A fundraising campaign for the church was launched last July at a cheese and wine evening where Bishop Roger Morris of Colchester spoke with members of the fundraising group.