A trust aiming to restore and reopen a village church has been given a massive £1.8 million grant.
The Benington Community Heritage Trust has been given the grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to turn the 800-year-old Benington All Saints Church into a community, events and heritage centre which will be known as The Beonna at All Saints.
A statement by the group said the listed building will be adapted to ‘provide a highly attractive venue suitable for the 21st century and beyond’.
Trust secretary Judith Crowe told The Standard: “We are truly excited, it’s just so thrilling to know the building, which has been here for 800 years, will get a future for the next 800 years if we’re lucky. It is what we have been working for.”
Head of HLF East Midlands Vanessa Harbar said: “All Saints is an important building with a long and distinguished history.
“This National Lottery investment will give it the new lease of life that it deserves and give the people of Benington a much-needed new community hub for everyone to use and enjoy.”
It is planned that the chancel, built in the 17th centrury, will remain basically as it is and will be a private area for occasional worship and a separate space of the church.
The 14th century font in the nave will be moved within the chancel.
The floor is hoped to be raised and towards the nave end of the church there will be a kitchen area on one side and toilets on the other, both separated by wooden barriers in keeping with the quality of the church. In between will form a community café.
It is hoped the building will be used for a variety of events including weddings, plays, live music and discos.
Conservation work on the church is due to begin in April 2016 and it is hoped the project itself will be completed the following April.
Benington Community Heritage Trust evolved as a charity from humble beginnings as part of the Friends of All Saints Church, in Benington.
The group was set up in 2003 when the church was first threatened with closure.
A meeting was held in the hall and a number of residents turned up to try to do something about it.
However, once the situation began to look more serious, the group began looking at further methods to save it and in 2007 the Benington Community Heritage Trust was formed.
The Trust is a registered charity and a member of the Association of Building Preservation Trusts. It has received support from the Diocese of Lincoln, the Church Commissioners and the Churches Conservation Trust.