Stonework project wins Heritage Lottery Funding

A Grade II listed village church in Outwood, Surrey has received a substantial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to carry out urgent repairs to the crumbling external stonework to avoid imminent loss of this historic building, it was announced today.

The project aims to conserve the external masonry of St John the Baptist, Outwood, designed by celebrated Victorian architect, William Burges. The main part of the ‘lancet style’ church was built in 1869 and the ‘saddle-back’ tower was added in 1874. The tower contains four bells which are rung regularly by local bell ringers. The building is now in danger of structural collapse and this grant will secure the future of the building as a community asset.

Delivery funding of £140,300 has been awarded to St John’s to carry out repairs the external stonework (made of Reigate stone) of the nave, the porch, the chancel, vestry walls and the chimney stack. This will remove old loose material, re-rendering the building with a more stable material. It also will include costs to replace guttering and downpipes to stop damage from rainwater.

The PCC will offer regular updates on the progress of the essential conservation work carried out and aim to develop the interest of local people in the history of the Church and its place in the surrounding area.

The funding will help the PCC to develop the church building as a place where members of the community can meet and socialise in pleasant surroundings, as well as becoming a focus of local heritage, history displays and cultural events and a place where the local community and visitors to the village will be able to find out more about the Church and its historical significance.

The funding will also secure the building for the regular worshipping community, as well as all those who attend the church for special services, such as baptisms, weddings and funerals, and other occasions throughout the year, such as Christmas Carol Services and the Royal British Legion Service of Remembrance. While the Church is primarily a place of Christian worship, we feel that it is important that it is also developed as a place where people of all backgrounds and beliefs are welcome. The Church is a focus for the wider community, which will also benefit from the project. It attracts visitors for afternoon teas in the summer and offers a place for quiet reflection, as well as events such as the Christmas Fair, the village Horticultural Society Early Show, craft festivals and concerts. A heritage day is planned to take place on Saturday 23 June 2018.

The Church also encourages and welcomes visitors interested in significant historical buildings, walkers and cyclists. It is surrounded on three sides by National Trust woodland and we would like to encourage more visitors to find out about this beautiful countryside, for example, by providing leaflets suggesting some reflective walks in the local area, ending up back at the Church for refreshments.

The Church website will continue to be further developed, so that visitors will be able to find information about the building and dates of future events. We hope that the installation of a small semi-permanent exhibition displaying information about the historical significance of the church building and local village history display will encourage a more diverse group of visitors, as well as local people keen to know more about their community. We will also hold the local history society archives. The PCC continues to welcome contributions of historical or local information from the local community and information about how you can get involved will be available on the website and in the church. Or you can contact members of the team, details below.

The Revd Nicholas Calver, Rector of St John the Baptist, and Nick Case-Green, Churchwarden, said: “We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support. St John’s Church is a focal point not only for the worshipping community but also as a place of great historical and community focus enjoyed by hundreds of visitors. As this historic building approaches its 150th anniversary, it is great to know that we can conserve it for future generations and preserve it for another 150 years.”

Michelle Roffe, Head of HLF South East England said: “We have been delighted to support St John the Baptist Church, Outwood to carry out urgent repairs and engage new audiences with this much-loved local landmark. Thank you to the National Lottery players who have made it possible.”