The Friends of SHCT Annual Meeting at Haughley Park on Monday 6th November 2023
The meeting was attended by around fifty Friends of SHCT and chairman Geoffrey Probert began by giving a short presentation on how we had been celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Trust. Then there were brief reports on finances, Ride and Stride day and Trust publicity.
The guest speaker was Right Rev Graeme Knowles CVO who was there to talk about the work of the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) in Suffolk, which he chairs. He explained that he came to the county after retiring, previously being the Dean at St Paul’s Cathedral (but resigned over disagreements regarding the ‘occupy’ camp that set up there) and Chief Executive of the charity ‘The Sons and Friends of the Clergy’.
He told us that DAC’s were set up as a result of campaigns for Church of England churches to be removed from the responsibility of their local worshippers and given to the Government. This was defeated in the House of Lords although cathedrals were left in the resulting legislation, The Ancient Monuments Protection Act 1885. That ruling stated that “every church should be the centre of worship and mission’.
Churches apply to the DAC when they wish to carry out work on the building and they advise on what is acceptable. The most common request currently is for permission to create small kitchens and toilet facilities.
“Facilities like a small kitchen can bring life to a parish and give it a future, as well as a past,” Rt Rev Graeme said.
He also laughingly said that they are often considered like a pantomime ‘baddie’, whom everyone boos, but when they make a site visit they can often give a useful outsiders view of the church. They can show how it appears to non-worshippers, as we all become accustomed to what we see regularly and may not spot something obvious. They can also suggest ways to learn from other successful projects.
The DAC ideally advises churches at an early stage on what may be acceptable (“before the builders move in” ) but the final decision on issuing a ‘faculty’ (permission to proceed) is taken by the Chancellor of the Diocese.
Rt Rev Graeme was very complimentary about the work of the SHCT and the grants they award, saying that our churches are in the best state of repair than they have been for centuries due to work done in the 20thcentury, and how churches now are generally open to visitors too.
He concluded by saying that although our grants may be a small proportion of the amount churches need to raise, they can be a seed for other grants and also give encouragement for a local church fundraising group to take the next step on their journey.
The evening concluded with supper and conversation.
More details of how to become a “Friend” of Suffolk Historic Churches Trust can be found HERE
As the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust continue their 50th anniversary year, twelve churches – seven in West Suffolk, five in East Suffolk – will receive grants following the quarterly meeting of the Trust’s Grants Committee. The grants awarded this time total £37,660 and the money is raised from sponsorship money from Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride, the Pedal and Drive car rally, and some legacies.
The October grants went to parish churches in Kedington, Brandeston, Hitcham, Melton, Herringswell, Gt Bricett, Walton, Lawshall, Raydon, Walsham-le-Willows, Debenham and St Margaret’s, Ipswich, and ranged from £660 to £6000. (Churches of any denomination and age can apply).
The work was for various schemes including replacing 1980’s lighting in Melton church, and re-tiling the nave roof and repairs to the tower at Herringswell . In Gt Bricett the money is needed to remove internal concrete render and re-render in lime mortar, whilst at Lawshall they have to stabilise a beam in the tower that has sheared at one end, meaning the church will remain closed until this is rectified.
“At its October meeting the Grants Committee of Suffolk Historic Churches Trust made awards to twelve Suffolk churches including St Mary’s, Walsham-le-Willows in the north, St Mary’s, Raydon in the south, St Mary’s, Walton in the east and St Ethelbert’s, Herringswell in the west,” explained Grants Committee Chairman, John Devaux. “The total cost of the work to the twelve churches is approximately £464,000 with one church having to find £130,000. At the beginning of October, the combined shortfall in funding came to approximately £215,000. It is hoped that some of the Trust awards will strengthen applications made by churches to additional fund holders, some of whom require that applicants will already have raised up to fifty per cent of the total sum required.”
Suffolk Historic Churches Trust give grants towards the cost of repairs and improvements to churches, chapels and meeting houses, four times year.
Fifty-two churches across Suffolk are installing tributes to Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, following grants totalling £170,000 awarded by Suffolk Historic Churches Trust (SHCT).
Last year the Trustees of the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust decided to allocate £70,000 to a Jubilee Fund for projects the Trust saw as a fitting tribute to the Queen’s remarkable 70 year reign. To spread the money grant would only be awarded to projects that would not exceed £5,000, with the requested grant expected to cover the bulk if not the entire costs of the project. The fund was open to all churches, chapels and meeting houses. When 56 applications were received, totalling over £180,000, thanks to two legacies, the Trustees felt able to award £170,000 to 52 churches right across Suffolk.
The applications were many and varied, for example, in Mendlesham a noticeboard has been erected outside the church, in Hitcham carved wooden pew ends have been created, in Elmswell a seat is now outside the church, the organ at Acton is repaired and in Gt Ashfield new wooden chairs for the clergy have been installed.
Chairman of the SHCT Grants Committee John Devaux commented ‘”The Trust is thrilled that Jubilee projects for which it awarded grants are now coming to fruition. Her Late Majesty was Patron of the National Churches Trust and I’m sure she would have been delighted to see so many projects being realised in her name in Suffolk. We very much look forward to visiting some of the churches to admire what has been achieved.’
In Elmswell the new seat is there for all to use.
“The 6’ bench was installed outside the church’s late 15th century tower looking out towards the neighbouring village of Woolpit and the old churchyard. A commemorative plaque was included with it and it has been secured with tamper-proof installation bolts! It is both a fitting tribute to her late Majesty and an ornament to the overall church landscape. We are extremely grateful to the SHCT for their generous funding of this project which will be enjoyed by many people in Elmswell” said Mike Schofield, Church Treasurer for St John’s Church, Elmswell.
Mendlesham are pleased with their noticeboard, standing proudly outside St Mary’s church.
“Our new noticeboard was blessed after Parish Mass by my husband, Father Philip Gray. It was fully paid for by a generous grant from the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Fund of Suffolk Historic Churches Trust and was installed by the Church Noticeboard Company. We feel it is a fitting tribute in memory of the late Queen and a great addition to the churchyard,” said Ann Gray.
Nicola Currie, Secretary of the Friends of Hitcham Church, explained the idea behind their new pew ends.
“It was decided to have not one but two oak panels carved, one to record our Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the other the parish’s care of the church building at Hitcham, over the same period. These would be fitted to the pew ends at the back of the Nave as these are the first ones seen by visitors to the church. We were keen to keep it simple to fit with our church so we opted for the Queen’s crown and words ‘70 years Dedication and Service’ and ‘70 years Repair and Restoration’ under a carving of Hitcham church cradled in cupped hands.
“Expert Suffolk wood carver and member of the Master Carvers’ Association, Robert Lewis, took such care over our project,” she continued. “We particularly love the way the grain of the oak has made the hands on the parish panel look as though they belong to someone who has been very hard working …as the work is never ending when caring for a medieval building. It seemed fitting to include the care of our church as the whole project was paid for by the SHCT, who have helped us so much in the past.’
The new chairs at Great Ashfield are part of a bigger project.
“As part of our Chancel Reordering Project at All Saints Church, Great Ashfield, the pews were removed to give us more space for activities both liturgical and social which was not offered by the seated interior. The project also involved some replastering, new lighting, and radiators as well as decorating. We were so delighted that our application for a Jubilee Grant was accepted, enabling us to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with the purchase of two Clergy Chairs and matching side tables. A wonderful way for our Church and Village to mark this very special occasion,” said a delighted Stephen Miles.
Christopher Moss from All Saints, Acton:
“With the help of a grant of £3907 we were able to undertake a full clean and refurbishment of our single manual Walker Organ which was obtained by Bishop and Son, Ipswich from Whitton Church in 1982 and installed in our church in 1983. The last major rebuild of the organ had been undertaken in 1870.” he explained.
The results of the successful applications are now beginning to be seen across the county while others are in progress.
Another project will be dedicated at St Mary’s Church, in Raydon in November.
“Our church here in Raydon has used an SHCT Jubilee Grant to commission a painting of the Royal Arms of King Charles III to hang on the blank west wall of St Mary’s. We believe it will be the first one in Suffolk. We had hoped to have Queen Elizabeth Arms but her death meant we had to change to one of the King. It will be unveiled on 26th November at morning service, ” said Simon Tennent, Vice- President of SHCT and member of Raydon church.
SHCT continue to award grants towards church building projects, four times a year. Details are on this website https://shct.org.uk/grants/
Churches awarded Jubilee Grants:
St Mary Magdalene, Debenham – weather vane
St Mary’s, Kersey- 3 new windows, white with a red, white and blue highlight in the centre
St Andrews Brockely – wheelchair ramp
St Michaels Beccles – lectern
St Marys Kentford – handrail
St Peter and St Paul, Fressingfield – door curtain and altar cloth
St Peter’s Acton – refurbish organ
All Saints, Hitcham – bench end panels
St Mary’s Raydon – Royal Coat of Arms
St Johns Denham – porch commemorative window
All Saints, Hollesley – catering unit
St John, Elmswell – achurchyard bench
St Mary’s Withersfield – clock restoration
St Edmund, Assington – mobile servery unit
St Nicholas, Thelnetham – 25 kneeler kits
St Peters Thurston – notice boards
All Saints, Sproughton – organ modification
St Mary’s Hinderclay – sound system
St Marys Mendelsham- noticeboard by the gate
Bradfield St George – restore sundial
St Marys Pakenham – tea urn
St Andrew Cotton – replace QEll Coronation Light
St Peter Hepworth – automatic clock winder
St Andrew, GT Finborogh – glazed porch doors
Holy Trinity, Long Melford – eight flower stands
St Marys Nettlestead – churchyard bench
St Bartholomew’s, Ingham – churchyard wall
St Peter, Spexhall – restore creed boards
St Mary’s Walsham le Willows – replace flags and curtain
Congratulations to Jessie Hopkins age 14 from Haverhill who has won this year’s Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride photography competition, and a £75 book token.
She took the winning set of three photos while walking from Haverhill to Kedington, with her grandmother, as part of the annual Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride fundraising day. They were raising money for Suffolk Historic Churches Trust and the Old Independent Church in Haverhill.
“I enjoyed the walk with my nan to raise money, and taking pictures of the churches we visited. It was a lovely day but very warm!” said Jessie. “I am thrilled to win the set of photos prize.”
Over 500 churches were open to cyclists and walkers for the event and, to win the photography competition, the entrant had to submit a set of three photographs, taken on Ride and Stride Day 2023, Saturday 9thSeptember, comprising a feature in church or chapel, a photo of themselves taking part, plus their favourite photo of the day.
Jessie entered photos of the beautiful organ in the Old Independent United Reformed Church, in Haverhill, the sunlight coming through window at Kedington Church (her favourite photo), and one of her and her grandmother on their walk.
There is one further prize of £25 book token for an individual photo from a set of three, and that was won by Jean Macpherson from Felixstowe with her photo of the stained glass window at St Peter and St Paul church, in Old Felixstowe.
“It is St Felix and King Siebert window, which is appropriate for Suffolk churches as King Siegbert sent a message to the Duke of Burgundy to send someone to teach the Suffolk Saxons about Christianity and Felix was sent. Now we have the churches and Christianity widespread in Suffolk,” she explained. “I took part to raise money for the Trust and Old Felixstowe Parish (St Peter and St Paul, St Andrews and St Nicholas at the Ferry).”
To see a selection of the photographs entered into the competition CLICK HERE
The Suffolk Historic Churches Trust, gives grants for church buildings. Next year, Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride will be held on Saturday 14th September.
ON Sunday 17th September 2023, the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust celebrated their 50th anniversary with a special service at St Edmundsbury Cathedral. Around 700 people attended including representatives from over 300 churches, church historians, church architects and supporters.
Here are some of the images from the event. The photographer was Chad Cox.
A Service of Thanksgiving for 50 years of Suffolk Historic Churches Trust
St Edmundsbury Cathedral, held on Sunday 17h September.
With choirs, music, readings, prayers and a message from Griff Rhys-Jones, the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust (SHCT) celebrated, on Sunday, fifty years of supporting historic church buildings of all denominations, in Suffolk. Over the years they have awarded thousands of pounds of grants, for church restoration and improvements, that was raised through legacies and sponsored events -principally the annual Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride.
Invited to the special cathedral service, by the Lord-Lieutenant of Suffolk, Clare, Countess of Euston, the Patron of the Trust, were two representatives from every historic Suffolk church, chapel and meeting house. 450 people representing 300 churches came – 270 Church of England parishes along with other denominations, including representatives of important historic buildings like Clare Priory, the Unitarian Meeting House in Ipswich and St Benets, Beccles. The Lord Lieutenant was there as were the High Sheriff of Suffolk, Mark Pendlington , our Resident Judge HHJ Martyn Levett, and church architects, historians and officers of the Trust. In total 700 people from every corner of Suffolk filled the cathedral.
Church representatives were asked to wear, with pride, a badge stating their church and date of foundation and a sea of blue and white badges told the story of Suffolk’s unique and glorious legacy of mediaeval churches
The service began with a Procession led by cyclists responsible for most of the £10m (in today’s money) raised and distributed by the SHCT over the last fifty years, and included church historians, church architects, SHCT Trustees, Ride and Stride organisers, the cathedral choir, children from Sexton’s Manor School, and Ecumenical and Clergy representatives.
The service was opened by a trumpet fanfare and a welcome from the Dean and included a sermon by the Rt Revd Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, prayers by priests of three denominations and a joint blessing by Bishop Martin and Bishop Peter, the Roman Catholic Bishop of East Anglia. There was a reading taken from Suffolk’s legendary writer Ronald Blythe’s ‘Next to Nature’ and a conversation between Trustees Jamie Norman and Rachel Sloane on the next fifty years. Music was orchestrated by the cathedral Director of Music, Timothy Parsons with the cathedral choir leading the singing and children from Sexton’s Manor School in Bury St Edmunds, conducted by music teacher, Emma Jones, performing a contemporary hymn written especially for the 50th anniversary of Suffolk Historic Churches Trust by Felixstowe musician, Andy Rayner.
Geoffrey Probert, Chairman of Suffolk Historic Churches Trust said “ I am so grateful to the Cathedral for hosting the Service and would like to thank Bishop Martin for his Sermon, Griff Rhys Jones for allowing us to show his film ‘my church’ and all those who made it all happen . Above all I would like to thank the churchwardens and treasurers who came in numbers from all over Suffolk to celebrate the Trust’s 50th but who are the real heroes of the story in their loving care year in year out for our wonderful church buildings”.
(A photo gallery of the event will be added shortly)
The big day is Saturday 9th September … good luck to everyone involved!
Rev. Toby Tate, Rector of the Martlesham Benefice, is proposing to run to all 19 Anglican churches in Colneys Deanery: a distance of over 50 km, which is greater than a marathon. (50 years- 50Km) Toby will start at St Michael and All Angels Martlesham Village and end at another of his parishes St Mary the Virgin, the rural Martlesham church.
Patrick Angus (from Telford, Birmingham but with family in Suffolk), is proposing to ride to all 32 churches in the Colneys Deanery and is happy for each church to raise sponsorship money FOR THEIR OWN CHURCH. Patrick will start at Trimley Methodist church, before going through Felixstowe and then onto the rural parishes and he will end at St Peter’s, Levington.
Thirty-eight singers from Cantus Firmus choir will sing and walk as part of Ride and Stride, going from Coddenham to Ipswich, singing a short service at churches on the route. The Pilgrimage of Song, led by St Edmundsbury Cathedral & Ipswich Music Development Director Richard Hubbard, is part of the cathedral’s InHarmony Project.
Botesdale Methodist Church has a refurbished 19th century organ that Ride and Stride participants are welcome to play.
More details of how to get involved in the big day are on this website. It is not too late!
To start with I am not a technical or software expert, I just use some technology to help me enjoy cycling and outdoor activities to the full.
Mapping the churches
There are a number of tools that could be used depending on the detail required.
I am going to map all the churches in my area (Woodbridge #7). Depending on how long this takes as I’ve 43, this could be an idea for the other AOs. I’m going to use Google Maps, via their MyMap function.
The Ordnance Survey app is an alternative to using Google Maps, but I’ve found that it is less intuitive to use.
Including a route
Another mapping option is the Ordnance Survey app. This is a chargeable map app, and it is possible and relatively easy to build your own map which can be printed or formatted as a GPX file, which can be uploaded onto a bike GPS system ( e.g. Garmin Edge). You open the app, search for a location (perhaps home) and then tap on ‘create a route’. You simply use your finger or mouse to track the route to each church or destination and then save the map. It can then be downloaded and uploaded onto a phone or iPad or GPS device as a GPX file. This would be ideal for both cyclists and walkers.
Planning a route
As mentioned above, Google Maps or the Ordnance Survey app are both options. One of the benefits of the OS app is that you get a contour cross-sections showing how up and down the route may be and a very useful and rather conservative time projection. I use this very often. It can be saved and shared.
Paper maps are an obvious alternative – I’d use an OS maps 1:25000 scale known as an Explorer map.
Another way to create a local map is also app based and also requires a smart watch (e.g. Garmin VivoActive) and the Garmin Connect app. This is really useful if you want to pre-ride a route, for example around the local area. If you set the watch to record a bike ride, when you finish and stop the application, the route plus health measurements ( calories burnt, heart rate, etc.) are recorded onto the Garmin Connect app, which will also show altitude, wind direction, speed, etc. – all the interesting stuff that gadget anoraks love! This data can be saved and even shared with friends.
STRAVA ( www.STRAVA.com) is another very popular bike and running app which combined with a smart watch allows routes and activities to be recorded, saved and shared. I’ve never used STRAVA, so am unable to comment.
KOMOOT is another app based mapping, planning and recording system. It requires a subscription and relies on previous members’ activities and algorithms based on your location and interests. I used this when I explored the Outer Hebrides last summer.
Using a GPX file via a GPS device provides directions, turnings, etc. So it’s less easy to get lost.
Accurate location of a church (or any place, feature, or pub!)
Using ‘what3words’ is an excellent method for a church to provide a precise location for visitors, emergency services, etc. This is accurate to 3 metres and more accurate than a postcode and easier to create than an OS 6 digit map reference. Using the what3words app, just stand in front of the church’s door or gate, and the app will provide a random unique 3 word code. This is unique to that location. My local church in Snape used what3words as its emergency locator when we celebrated the Platinum Jubilee this year in case we needed urgent assistance at the venue.
I would recommend that all churches and place of worship find their what3words reference and include this in their address and “in case of emergency” information. The emergency services now use what3words as their preferred locator system.
Using a GoPro
I also record routes and rides using a GoPro attached to my cycle helmet, and then share these with friends. This is particularly useful when trying to sell the idea of doing the event or joining me. My 2022 Ride & Stride route was one I did with my wife who hadn’t ridden any longish distances for 30+ years. She has a new e-bike and asked if she could accompany me. We rode to all the churches in the Alde River Benefice (plus one other). We filmed the journey with the encouraging (?!) soundtrack and have now shared with members of the benefice and others.
I hope that you will find my input useful. As I stated at the beginning I am not a technical or IT expert, and just a user of technology that I find useful. I certainly would not cycle without my iPhone’s tracking turned on, nor without my GoPro or Garmin smart watch. I still get lost at times but having the technology to hand is both a comfort and great help.
At its July meeting the Grants Committee of Suffolk Historic Churches Trust awarded grants totalling £42,500 to eight churches.
Awards went to St Peter’s in Levington, St Mary at Stoke in Ipswich, St Peter’s in Henley, All Saints, Little Cornard, St Mary’s, Langham, Felixstowe Baptist Church, St Gregory’s Rendlesham and St Botolph’s, Iken.
St Mary at Stoke, Ipswich and St Peter’s, Henley were each awarded £8,000, the largest grants on this occasion.
“We are pleased to help the churches chosen this quarter” explained Grants Committee Chairman, John Devaux. “In this, our 50th anniversary year, the Trust is, as always, welcoming applications from churches of all denominations when they need help with essential maintenance, or improvements, such as toilets, to make their building more suitable for fundraising events.”
Suffolk Historic Churches Trust give grants towards the cost of repairs and improvements to churches, chapels and meeting houses, four times year.
Projects this time included repairs to roofs (at St Mary at Stoke, Litte Cornard, Langham and Little Cornard) and walls (Felixstowe Baptist church and Rendlesham).
This year the annual fundraising event Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride (for sponsored walkers and cyclists) around over 500 Suffolk churches, chapels and meeting houses, and Pedal & Drive (for vintage and classic cars), is on Saturday 9th September. More details about the events are HERE (Ride and Stride) and HERE (Pedal & Drive)
More details about applying for a grant can be found HERE
‘Stand on the Faith’ is a brand new song written to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Suffolk Historic Churches Trust, which is released this Friday 21st July 2023 on Youtube and on Saturday 22nd July on all audio streaming platforms.
Children from Sexton’s Manor School in Bury St Edmunds have been recorded and filmed singing a new song in the form of a contemporary hymn written especially for the 50th anniversary of Suffolk Historic Churches Trust, the charity that raises money for church buildings.
As well as the song being released on all streaming platforms and video being released on YouTube, they will sing the song at a special service at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in September.
Experienced local musician, songwriter and producer, Andrew Rayner, from Wendy House Music in Felixstowe, wrote the song, recorded and filmed the key stage 2 children at Fornham All Saints church, after being approached by the Trustees of Suffolk Historic Churches Trust.
Andy said ‘It was a privilege to be commissioned to write and record this song. As part of the song writing process, it was inspiring researching the history and journey of the Christian faith in Suffolk over the last 1200 years. The lively and celebratory song was written with children in mind and was taught to the whole school by music teacher, Emma Jones.”
Invited to the special cathedral service will be two representatives from every historic Suffolk church, chapel and meeting house.
“This was an amazing opportunity for us at Sexton’s Manor, said music teacher Emma Jones. “The children have loved learning the song and it has become our song of the year! It was a privilege to work with Andy Rayner and to be part of such a great project. The children had great fun recording and filming for the song and can’t wait to show their families and friends the final results of their hard work.”
“The Suffolk Historic Churches Trust is very grateful to Andy Rayner for giving us his time and expertise to create such a joyous modern hymn for our special anniversary, and involving the children in such an exciting project,” explained Rachel Sloane, Trustee of SHCT. “This year we are celebrating fifty years of supporting historic church buildings in Suffolk, with thousands of pounds of grants, raised through legacies and sponsored events such as the annual Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride. The service at the cathedral will be the opportunity for church people to come together to mark this great achievement.”
Churches, chapels and Meeting Houses who wish to send representatives to the special service should contact email@example.com for an invitation or should reply as soon as possible if they have already received an approach, as there are limited tickets available.