Caistor’s historic parish church has been blessed with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to preserve the building and the heritage within.
A total of £249,000 has been offered towards a major restoration of the church and improvements to the visitor experience and will be released in two stages.
The initial £33,800 has been awarded to the parochial church council to progress plans for the £333,000 planned project, which will include such things as paying an architect to draw up the specification for the work required.
Once this has been accepted by the Lottery Fund, the rest of the money can be applied for to complete the project.
“We are over the moon that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support,” said the Rev Canon Ian Robinson, who has been vicar of Caistor for 21 years.
“The church has been an important part of Caistor life for many generations and it’s great to know that we are a step closer to preserving it for many more centuries, as well as offering a better experience for visitors and a more useful learning resource for our young people.
“Although much hard work has gone on in obtaining this grant, the hard work really begins now as we begin to develop the project and then, of course, bring it to fruition.
“Our forebears have left us this wonderful building and, due to their dedication, it is in the remarkable condition it is today. But it now needs our tender loving care.
“Our project title, ‘Preserve, Share, Understand’, says it all.
“We need to preserve the building. We want to share it more widely. We want to help folk understand it better.”
The project aims to carry out essential conservation work to the main roof of the church, which is suffering from damaged and rotting timbers and, as a result, allowing a leakage of rain water into the building, and improve the heating system.
“The roof is about 100 years old and it is beginning to show signs of age,” said the Rev Robinson.
“While we were having this work done, we thought it sensible to also look at upgrading our Victorian heating system, which was adapted in the 1950s.”
Another side of the project is to provide better educational opportunities for visitors and local schools.
The church is home to the infamous gad whip - a remnant of a strange 19th century ritual which caused riots in the street of the town and now features on the town crest.
The story of the Gad Whip will now be researched more fully and put on display, as well as the whip being conserved for the amusement of future generations.
“The whole project will take two years to complete and we are hoping to carry on as much as normal during that time,” added the Rev Robinson. “We are hoping we will not have to close the church, but we will have to take advice on that from the architect.”