Church development plans secure a £320,000 funding boost

Trustees Irene Presgrave, Robert Bell, Kevin Pinner and Martin Wright.
Trustees Irene Presgrave, Robert Bell, Kevin Pinner and Martin Wright.

Villagers in Benington are celebrating getting grants of almost £320,000 to develop their a disused church into a hub for community events.

All Saints Church was closed for use in 2003, but villagers banded together to form the Benington Community Heritage Trust (BCHT).

Since then, they have worked hard on their £1.9 million plan to find a sustrainable future for the Grade I-listed building, built in 1240AD.

“It is our aim to bring the life back into the village,” said trustee Martin Wright.

“We don’t have a shop anymore and our village hall is nearing the end of its life.

“We are one of the first in the country to do this, which is why we are getting such great support.

“The church will become a real asset for the village, and it’s such a lovely building.”

The trust has now been awarded a £200,000 Challenge Fund grant from the Architectural Heritage Fund and £119,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

In previous years, funding has been secured from WREN, English Heritage, the Churches Conservation Trust and the Diocese of Lincoln.

“The trust has received fantastic local and national support,” said Robert Bell, chairman of BCHT.

“These two grants have moved forward our goal of conserving and re-opening this wonderful building so it is accessible to everyone.”

The plans have been based on research and consulation with the villagers at open days held over the last two years.

The building will still be used for local church services.

Mr Wright added: “We have decided to call the event centre ‘The Beonna’ after an Anglo Saxon chieftain from which the village name has evolved.”

Further grant funding of around £1 million is needed to complete the project.

The trust will continue to raise funds over the next few years.