A Daventry district village's church with a rich history has received Heritage Lottery funding to help with repairs to its roof and drains.
Made possible by National Lottery players, the project aims to make St Peter & St Paul’s Church in Watford wind and weather tight so that it is available for future generations to appreciate.
It also aims to encourage people to engage with the history associated with the church.
Commenting on the award, Revd Graham Collingridge said: “We’re delighted that we’ve received this support thanks to National Lottery players.
"The church has connections with Watford Village going back almost 1000 years, and it’s great to know that we are a step closer to preserving it for future generations, and increasing awareness of its rich historical connections, particularly the Pilgrim Fathers as we approach their 400th Anniversary."
The news of the funding will be welcome particularly as the church has been the target for thieves in recent months.
St Peter & St Paul’s Church has rich historical connections which go back to the time of William the Conqueror in the form of Gilbert ‘The Cook’. Gilbert was Lord and Tenant-in-Chief of Watford around 1086, 20 years after the Battle of Hastings.
The church also has links with The Pilgrim Fathers, whose four hundredth anniversary is in 2020, and thirty-five million people can now claim ancestral lineage from them, which is 12 per cent of the American population.
Thomas Rogers and his wife Alice Cosgrove were from Watford village families, generations of whom had their baptisms, weddings and funerals in St Peter & St Paul’s Church.
Other history represented in the church includes Sir George Clerke, a Royalist at the nearby Battle of Naseby in 1645, and links with the Henley, Eden and Peel families who have had important roles or connections as ministers and Prime Ministers in government from the 18th to 20th centuries.
Jonathan Platt, head of Heritage Lottery Fund East Midlands, said: “Historic places of worship like St Peter and St Paul’s have fascinating stories to tell, and are often at the heart of local communities.
Thanks to National Lottery players’ we can help to address the church’s urgent conservation needs and share its heritage widely.”
Development funding of £13,400 has been awarded for the completion of the initial phase of the project, due to finish in July 2018, while a total grant of up to £218,500 could be handed to the church, should the first phase be successful, as complete restoration could take two years.
The aim is to re-cover the temporary roof covering with a steel-based alternative, repair the stonework of the chancel windows, overhaul the gutters and drains, and provide a toilet.
A range of activities will be developed to enable the public to engage with the history of the church, including a dedicated website, printed information, exhibitions about the history of the church, and workshops to train volunteers in promoting the church’s heritage as well as offering educational visits for schools.
It is anticipated the church will remain open throughout the project.