A much-loved Lincolnshire church is to share in a £523,000 funding payout from the National Churches Trust.

A £10,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant will help fund the installation of an accessible toilet and upgrade the heating system at the Grade I-listed St Mary’s church, Long Sutton, and will help the church to better serve its local community.

Broadcaster and journalist Huw Edwards, Vice President of The National Churches Trust, said: “The UK’s historic churches and chapels are a vital part of our national heritage. But to survive, many need to carry out urgent repairs and install modern facilities. The cost of this work is far beyond what most congregations can pay for themselves.

“I’m delighted that the St Mary Church, Long Sutton, is being helped with a £10,000 National Churches Trust Grant. The work to install an accessible toilet and upgrade the heating system will help ensure the future of the church and enable it to be used for a wide range of activities to benefit local people.”

Sixty-three churches and chapels in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will benefit from the latest grants from the National Churches Trust, the charity supporting church buildings of all Christian denominations across the UK.

In 2019, the Trust distributed over £1.2 million to help churches and chapels tackle urgent repairs, maintenance work and install modern facilities such as kitchens and toilets.

A wide range of grants from the National Churches Trust will be available to help places of worship in 2020 and full details can be found here.

The church

The church dates from about 1170. It is an ambitious late Romanesque building, as can be seen from the nave, which still survives. Long Sutton was granted a charter for a market in 1202 and the detached tower dates from this period, when it would have served as an open structure to shelter the market.

St Mary’s has the highest, oldest and best preserved timber spire in the country. As the town’s prosperity grew it was decided to remodel the church. John Betjeman describes it as the ‘Cathedral of the Fens’ and Simon Jenkins awards it three stars in England’s 1000 Best Churches.

The project

The project will install an accessible toilet. Father Jonathan Sibley, Vicar at St Mary’s, said: “The church has no toilet facilities at the moment and people have to cross the churchyard and car park in all weathers to use the facilities in the church hall. We are so grateful to the National Churches Trust for their help in providing this essential facility and enabling greater community use. Without this grant we could not afford to carry out this much-needed improvement.”