A £12,000 National Churches Trust Cornerstone Grant, together with an additional £4,500 grant made by the Trust on behalf of the Wolfson Foundation, will help fund repairs to rainwater goods and the installation of kitchen water and electricity at the Grade II*-listed St Benedict’s Church in Scrivelsby. The church is currently on the Historic England ‘At Risk Register’.

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 and have done so much to help local people during the COVID-19 lockdown. 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.”

So I’m delighted that St Benedict’s Church is being helped with a £12,000 National Churches Trust Grant. The repair work and installation of kitchen, water and electricity will enable it to better serve its community and ensure the future of this historic Lincolnshire church which is linked with the American President, George Washington.”

Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive at the Wolfson Foundation, said: “Churches play a central role in the spiritual life of a community but they are also an integral, much loved, part of our cultural heritage. We are delighted to be working in partnership with the National Churches Trust on this important programme supporting the preservation of these remarkable and wonderful buildings across the UK.”

A total of 59 grants have been awarded to benefit churches and chapels in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by the National Churches Trust, the charity that supports the UK’s church buildings.

These are the second-round of grants made by the National Churches Trust in 2020. To date this year, the Trust has distributed 145 grants totalling over £1 million to churches and chapels around the UK. 

The church

St Benedict’s dates from the 13th and 15th centuries, with extensive restoration in 1860 and 1876. It is strongly associated with the Dymoke family, who have owned the estate since the 14th century under the Dymoke name, and since Doomsday under the previous family line of Marmion. 

The powerful Marmion family were Champion to the Dukes of Normandy of France and came to England with William when he invaded in 1066. The duty of the Kings Champion was to challenge anyone who doubted the new monarchs right to the throne. The Champion would throw down his gauntlet to prove he would fight to the death anyone who did. The title of Champion has stayed with the family.

Sir Robert Dymoke held high office during the reign of Henry VIII; after the king’s divorce, he was Controller of Katherine of Aragon’s household. He died in 1545 and his tomb is in St Benedict’s. His son, Sir Edward Dymoke, was High Sheriff during the Lincolnshire uprising in 1536. The current Hereditary Champion and 34th of Scrivelsby is Francis Dymoke, an accountant and estate owner.

Despite phases of restoration in the 19th century, the church retains many earlier features and monuments. The most startling of which is a pulpit, situated in the middle of the church, taking the attention of the congregation away from the altar end and suggesting a shift in emphasis of services when it was installed. These do not often survive. Also notable is the plaque on the wall which identifies St Benedict’s as the Ancestral Church of American President George Washington, who was the four times great-grandson of Frances Dymoke (1545-1613).

The project

The roof slates are at the end of their working life and the church roof is leaking. The grant funding will help with replacing the roof with slates and replace and improve all water goods. The gutters are not big enough and two extra downpipes and proper drainage will be installed.

Francis Dymoke and Pauline Grundy, churchwardens at St Benedict’s, said: “Once the roof is repaired the church building will be secure for 150 years. With the new kitchen and facilities, the church will be available for everybody. The village has no other centre to use and these changes will enable more people to make good use of the church. We are so grateful to National Churches Trust for their help.”

This article was originally published on Tuesday, 25th August 2020.