Work is due to begin on repairs to a Fenland church which will protect recently rediscovered unique carvings.
The carvings in St Clement’s Church, Outwell, include strange creatures dominating known Apostles and are believed to date back to the 15th century.
They are already in a poor state because of weather penetration and the ravages of death watch beetle.
Scaffolding now covering the east end of the medieval church will enable priority repairs to an area of castellations which are crumbling badly.
The work is funded partly by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Norfolk Churches Trust, through English Heritage.
The next phase of work – expected to begin soon after the castellations repairs – will be to make the roof watertight to protect the carvings, which have become known as the Outwell Demons, from further damage. There are also plans to have the carvings – thought to be unique in Europe – repaired and displayed so that they can be seen better by visitors to the church.
After their rediscovery in 2012 the Parochial Church Council successfully applied for a grant of approximately £170,000 to protect the carvings. But it means the church itself has to raise £50,000 in matching funds.
The Friends of St Clement’s are now working on raising that money, some of it through a “sponsor a slate” campaign in which people can donate towards the costs of the roof repairs.
As the exterior scaffolding was being put up, chairman of the Friends, Kate Jackson, said they were delighted that the work on the repair and restoration of the church was beginning.
“The roof repairs will ensure that the building is watertight and we can then move on to the next phase where the water damage within the building can be addressed,” she said.
“Our aim is to raise funds for the complete project and our ‘sponsor a slate’ campaign is a key part of it. A £5 donation will sponsor one slate and the donor’s name will be entered in a special register which will be kept in the church.
“We are grateful to English Heritage, The Heritage Lottery Fund and Norfolk Churches Trust for their grants and to everyone who has already made a donation. The Friends need to raise almost £50,000 within the next year to ensure that this phase of the work can be completed. We hope that local people and businesses will continue to support us.”
You can ‘sponsor a slate’ or give a donation by contacting the Friends membership secretary on 01945 774077.