Revealed: The heritage sites in Norfolk which are now classed as ‘at risk’

PUBLISHED: 16:09 24 October 2014 | UPDATED: 16:09 24 October 2014

The church of St Nicholas, North Walsham. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The church of St Nicholas, North Walsham. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2014

They are sites which tell the stories of our rich historical past – but more buildings, churches and conservation areas are now deemed at risk in the region.

Knapton Church has been put on the English Heritage at risk register because of potential damage to important roof carvings of angels. Knapton Church has been put on the English Heritage at risk register because of potential damage to important roof carvings of angels.

47 structures from across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire have added to English Heritage’s Heritage at Risk Register 2014.

But there was good news in the report too, with about 42 East of England sites previously deemed at risk have now been taken off the list following a successful rescue, including 26 in Norfolk 6 in Suffolk and 10 in Cambridgeshire.

And despite 31 of the 37 buildings in Norfolk now in need of desperate repair being churches, there is confidence that the latest register could be good news for heritage in the area.

John Ette, Heritage at Risk principal for the East of England, said many more churches across Norfolk could now benefit from becoming at risk by applying for a national £32m pot called Grants for Places of Worship.

All Saints Church, Upper Sheringham All Saints Church, Upper Sheringham

“It’s always sad when any building is in need of extra care and attention, but it’s even worse if you can’t do anything about it. What we are seeing now is a thoroughly positive opportunity,” he said. “The At Risk Register focuses on how people can get help and target buildings which are most in need so we can push them in to the next generation.

“Losing the churches would be a loss to all of us.”

Malcolm Fisher, secretary of the Norfolk Churches Trust, said he would rather see all of Norfolk’s churches on the ‘at risk’ list so they could all reap the benefits of restoration cash.

In Norfolk All Saints in Filby, Church of St Nicholas, in North Walsham, Church of St Andrew in Lexham and Church of All Saints, in Upper Sheringham are among those buildings which have been put on the register.

Filby church which has been put on the at risk register. Filby church which has been put on the at risk register.

All Saints in Upper Sheringham needs significant repair work including re-roofing of the aisle, repair and replacement of copings and replacement of rainwater goods.

The slates on the vestry roof need renewing, the tower roof spout needs effective drainage at ground level and structural repairs are also needed.

John Ashe, Archdeacon of Lynn, wanted to reassure communities that churches being put on the at risk register is no bad thing – and again it could help when applying for grants to restore the buildings.

Langham Airfield Dome Trainer is once of the sites which has been saved after it was transformed into a living history centre and museum.

East Lexham church. Picture: Matthew Usher. East Lexham church. Picture: Matthew Usher.

It is one of only six Second World War training domes in the country and substantial grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage have resulted in the structure being fully restored and reopened.

One of English Heritage’s most ambitious projects in the region is the conservation of the impressive medieval gatehouse at Pentney Priory, near King’s Lynn.

It has been removed from the register after the completion of major structural repairs and a new roof in the spring.

And in Suffolk English Heritage has added three new priority sites to its list of nationally-important areas in the East of England for rescue and removal.

Once site is grade II listed Bentley Hall Barn in Babergh which is at risk of collapse as well as being an important habitat for bats.

The second site is Friston Post Mill, Alderburgh which has been propped up by a steel frame for the past decade.

Urgent repairs are needed to the central post which is leaning and death watch beetle is attacking supporting timbers.

And the third new addition to the register in Suffolk year is the Martello Tower at the western end of the sea front in Felixstowe. Water is penetrating its roof and there are serious problems with damp.


A historic Norwich building has been deemed at risk by English Heritage in its latest audit.

Once a parish church, St Peter Hungate, on Princes Street, is now used as a medieval art museum and exhibition space.

But according to the latest report produced by English Heritage, the 15th century building is now at “immediate risk of further rapid deterioration or loss of fabric”.

The Grade One listed building is among 31 Norfolk churches added to The Heritage at Risk Register 2014, bringing a total of 37 sites in the county now facing disrepair.

Trudi Hughes, a heritage at risk surveyor, said the roof needs £100,000 worth of repairs before it is safe for the public.

“Churches are very special and significant to the people of Norfolk.

“But the roof has a lot of damage and could be a potential hazard to the public,” she said.

The building is held on long lease by Norwich Historic Churches Trust and sub-let to the Hungate Medieval Arts Trust who use the building for the arts.

The trust applied for a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.


Wisbech Conservation Area and St Wendreda’s Church, March, have both been added to English Heritage’s At Risk register.

Wisbech Conservation area and the church are two of nine sites to be added to the register for Cambridgeshire, which this year has seen 10 sites removed thanks to restoration work.

A report on the conservation area states: “The area has a number of vacant buildings and gaps where buildings once stood, especially in Wisbech High Street. English Heritage has been working with Fenland District Council and other partners to address a number of key architectural buildings at risk and to build a positive strategy for regeneration and conservation.”

A bid for £2m of Heritage Lottery Funding to rejuventate Wisbech High Street has been submitted with £480,000 already pledged from Fenland District Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, Wisbech Town Council and Wisbech Society. The report on St Wendreda’s Church (pictured) states it is of “immediate risk of further rapid deterioration” and the condition is said to be “very bad”. However, a Heritage Lottery grant has been offered and work is due to start any time now.


A heavenly host of 138 carved and painted angels grace Knapton Church’s double-hammerbeamed roof.

Created in 1503, it is unique in Europe. It is listed among the 100 Church Treasures – precious national artworks identified as being at risk by ChurchCare, the cathedral and church buildings division of t
he Archbishops’ Council.

But the roof protecting the flying angels is deteriorating badly and the 14th-century church tower is cracked.

The cost of repairs, plus installing a toilet and small kitchen, is estimated at £260,000 and the church is hopeful of securing a £200,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

Self-help fundraising began last year and has so far collected nearly £7,500.


Denver Mill will receive a £75,000 grant to fund urgent repairs.

The grant is to be awarded by not-for-profit business WREN, which will pay for repairs to the external walls, as well as a leaking cap on top of the mill tower.

The mill is suffering from extreme damp which is threatening the structure of the building.

In October 2011 a sail broke off, and today the mill stands without any sails or stocks.

Douglas Munro, secretary of the Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust which owns the mill, said: “We have been wanting to get the mill back into working order, and have been frustrated by the difficulty of getting the work funded.

“We look forward to the work starting, hopefully within a few months.”

• For a full list of the sites across the region click here


  • I had the oportunity to go to Melton Constable Hall yesterday as part of official business. 10 years ago NNDC said it was at a delicate stage with negotiations with the owner. I see that official entry has been made recently in one building but when is something going to be done to save the main building?

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    Kevin Craske

    Friday, October 31, 2014

  • Isn't the Church the richest landowner in the country? They should pay their own way.

    Report this comment

    john smith

    Saturday, October 25, 2014

  • There are enough churches left if a few fall down, how many People visit their local church? Not many and the numbers are decreasing. Plenty of stone for to use for the NNDR and turn the sites into nature sites

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    Saturday, October 25, 2014

  • @Tinkerbell - if you buy a house in a conservation area you should be ready to abide by the rules. The same goes for the Church of England (eg the Archdeacon of Lynn saying being on the register will help get grants) What is wrong with one of the richest organisations in the country paying for the upkeep of its buildings rather than expecting us non-believers to subsidise them?

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    Thursday, October 23, 2014

  • Reading in the newspaper that the conservation area in Cromer is described as poor -I am not surprised. I live in it and the rules that go with doing anything to our property, which is not a lovely old building -just unfortunately in that area, are so restrictive from a financial point of view. I'm sure many other home owners have the same problem.

    Report this comment


    Thursday, October 23, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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