Medieval church in urgent need of repairs gets £500k boost

St Margaret de Westwick

St Margaret de Westwick Church in Norwich's St Benedicts Street. - Credit: Historic England

A medieval church in desperate need of repair has been handed a welcome £500,000 boost.

St Margaret de Westwick Church in St Benedicts Street, which was added to a register of buildings at risk in 2020, has been awarded the substantial grant by Historic England.

St Margaret de Westwick church

A stained glass window in Norwich's St Margaret de Westwick church. - Credit: Historic England

Repairs are needed across the Grade I listed building, including to the roof, tower, south chapel and chancel - and the heritage body's grant means that crucial work can go ahead.

A previous £45,000 grant from Historic England allowed investigation work to establish the scale of the damage and how to fix it.

The extensive restoration programme will include roof, masonry and drainage repairs.

Inside St Margaret de Westwick Church in Norwich.

Inside St Margaret de Westwick Church in Norwich. - Credit: Historic England

Closed to worship in 1975, the church now operates as a ‘Church of Art’ with a busy programme of art exhibitions.

It is one of 18 medieval churches in the care of the Norwich Historic Churches Trust, which protects, preserves and finds new uses for historic churches in the city. 

Mark Wilson, from Norwich Historic Churches Trust

Mark Wilson, from Norwich Historic Churches Trust. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Mark Wilson, from Norwich Historic Churches Trust, said: “We are so pleased that this exciting project can go ahead to conserve this significant part of the medieval heritage of Norwich.

Most Read

"It will be a fantastic project covering many elements of church restoration and craft skills.

"We couldn’t do this without our supporters especially Historic England and hope to further improve public access in this building after the works are complete.”

Domenico D’Alessandro, Historic England's East of England architect/surveyor, said: “I’m delighted to see work beginning to repair and restore this important medieval church.

"St Margaret de Westwick continues to be a focal point for the community and a welcoming space for all to enjoy.

"This extensive repair programme will ensure that the building can be used and loved into the future.”

Inside St Margaret de Westwick Church in Norwich.

Inside St Margaret de Westwick Church in Norwich. - Credit: Historic England

Officers at Norwich City Council last week used delegated powers to grant permission for repairs to the church to be made.

Norwich's medieval churches

Dating to the 14th and 15th centuries, St Margaret de Westwick is one of five medieval churches built along St Benedicts Street and 31 surviving medieval churches within Norwich's city walls.

Now deconsecrated, St Margaret’s Church is identified as a local landmark in the Elm Hill and Maddermarket character area of the City Centre Conservation Area.

The churchyard landscape surrounding the church is one of the green spaces deemed important to the character of St Benedicts Street, one of the oldest roads in the city centre.

St Margaret de Westwick Church in Norwich.

St Margaret de Westwick Church in Norwich. - Credit: Historic England

Norwich has the highest number of surviving medieval churches in any city north of the Alps.

These buildings are collectively considered to be of international importance, given the number of churches built, their architectural quality and the number which have survived.

Norwich Historic Churches Trust would like to hear from willing volunteers to assist with its care of the city's churches.

People can find out more by visiting https://www.nhct-norwich.org/volunteer/