Directory: Churches and People

St Denys' Church receives HLF boost

23 August 2017


St Denys’ Church in Aswarby, near Sleaford, has been successful in securing a grant of £219,087 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) towards urgent repairs to its spire, tower and drainage. This is in addition to the £22,900 development grant awarded in April 2016. The money has been awarded through HLF’s Grants for Places of Worship programme.

The grant has been made possible by National Lottery players and will support urgently needed repairs after the building was forced to close two years ago. A structural survey revealed a number of major problems with the tower and spire, the chancel and nave roofs, the south porch and drainage. Urgent work was undertaken in 2016 to make the building safe for use.

St Denys’ is a Grade I-listed building of huge historical importance. It is recorded that George Bass, after whom the Bass Strait between Tasmania and mainland Australia is named, was born in Aswarby and baptised in the church. His father and grandfather were both churchwardens. In addition, the significance of this building to Australian and British history has been shown by notable letters of support from the Hon Alexander Downer AC, High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Australian High Commission; Dr Kevin Fewster AM FRSA, Director of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London; and three local historical associations in Australia, amongst others.

Part of the work towards successfully obtaining the grant has included the local community of Aswarby hosting a day’s visit from the nearby Osbournby Primary School and researching the history of George Bass and his importance in modern day Australia. The grant will help fund a number of activities, including the production of displays and literature that will be available in the future, both at St Denys’ and online, for its many visitors from the UK and overseas. 

Aswarby is part of the Parish of South Lafford. Its parochial church council (PCC) oversees 11 churches and has legal responsibility for the care of the church buildings. Commenting on the award, Sonia Playne, Chair of St Denys’ Volunteers, said: “We are delighted and very grateful to receive this significant grant from HLF. This recognises months of hard work by the villagers and friends of Aswarby and St Denys’ Church. We have had marvellous help from our HLF mentor, Lisa Davenport, and our architects, Peter Rogan Associates. We are all excited that the much needed hard work of undertaking repairs can now begin.”

Jonathan Platt, Head of HLF East Midlands, said: “Historic places of worship like St Denys Church 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.”

In addition to the work supported by HLF, lead from the previously sound north aisle roof was stolen in November 2016, and this has significantly increased the requirement to secure other funding from grants, donations and village fundraising activities. It is possible to contribute to this cause by visiting a JustGiving page.