Church Annual Report

All Saints’ Church.

Report for East Winch Parish Council - May 2016

The repairs to the tower and south porch were complete by early November. There are some unsatisfactory loose ends: where the west door has been renovated there are gaps between it and the door which should have been filled in; three of the new heaters inside have already given up the ghost and the gate at the entrance to the drive, which was reversed into by nameless persons, no longer shuts easily.

In spite of these shortcomings, the architect has entered the project for the Norfolk Architects' Association Craftsmanship Awards.

During renovations, a large soakaway was dug into the graveyard on the north side, which made it muddy and hard to mow. We now have a new gardener, and the graveyard is beginning to look more respectable. We are also extremely grateful to the nameless volunteer who came from Gayton and mowed the area round the new graves all last year, and to two other volunteers, David Wright and Brian Paton, who are clearing the vegetation from the wall along the A47. Their work has revealed how fragile the wall is becoming.

On a windy day in February, one of the clock hands fell off and clattered on to the north aisle roof, from where it was rescued by David Franklin. It has been taken to the clock mender, repaired, and should be reinstalled shortly, but at a cost of £520 plus VAT. It seems as if the hand was replaced on the clock face badly after repainting – another problem to be resolved with the builders.

The churchyard at St Cecilia’s, West Bilney, is being mowed as necessary, though Nic Velzeboer still keeps the path clear of weeds. At present, the bluebells round the grave of Baron Von Roretz, planted many years ago by Doug Curl, are particularly beautiful.

The PCC is very grateful to the Parish Council for their annual donation towards the upkeep of the graveyards.

East Winch Church: report for Parish Council - May 2015

All Saints’ Church is separated from the rest of the village by the A47, and perhaps culturally too. But it is the village’s most notable monument and, with its connection to the history of the Dukes of Norfolk, it’s worth looking after.

Last year, the church obtained Lottery funding to repair the tower, which is not in good order, together with the south porch, and to improve the guttering on the north side. Inside, the Parochial Church Council decided that better heating was more of a priority than a toilet, on the grounds that most people can survive for an hour without using that facility, whereas sitting for an hour in freezing cold is torture.

Several other charities contributed relatively small amounts towards the works, and two local businesses between them contributed £3,250.

For months the investigations necessary before building work started were carried out: this was finished in November and the second part of the funding was applied for. We got the go-ahead in late March, and work started on 28th April, though the scaffolders downed tools when they found an active colony of honey bees in the tower.

Assuming not too many hitches like this occur, work should take six months.

For several years the church has been left open on Saturdays during British summer time. This year it will also be open every day in the first week in August, as that’s Open Churches Week. During that week there will be a poetry reading – not too highfallutin’ – and we hope to run some holiday activities for children.

With Lottery funding, we intend to produce an updated church guide, a fun guide for children and to have heritage displays in the church.

Mowing of the churchyards at East Winch and West Bilney is paid for by the Parish Council. Additional tidy up work is done by volunteers. If you would like to be part of a tidying team, please let N. Steele or Wendy Smith know. Many thanks to the volunteers (David and David) who, last month, trimmed the ivy on the walls at East Winch. Thanks also to Colin, who is always ready to help visitors to the church and to oversee its safety.

St Cecilia’s church at West Bilney has had a path built to the south door, again with Lottery funding. On the weekend of 20th and 21st June, there will be an open weekend with a mini flower festival and a concert.

Nell Steele

15 May 2015