Updated October 2023
The conservation and restoration of our wall paintings (see below) has taken place with explanatory talks and demonstrations in the church, given by our conservator Tom Organ, of Arte Conservation.
We want to retain the status of St Margarets as an active place of worship, fulfilling a spiritual role within the village of Paston and within the wider Trunch Group of parishes to which we belong. However, this alone would no longer guarantee the viability of our grade-1 listed building. To do so we recognised that we must maximise the potential offered by a building which has both usable space and a unique history.
We have therefore been on a journey to make the building structurally sound and to open it to a new audience of local people and visitors alike………..
- We established a project steering group involving Paston Church Council, Paston Parish Council and the Paston Heritage Society
- We raised almost £180,000 to complete structural repairs and renew the rainwater drainage system in 2014. We repaired three windows between 2016 and 2019 and we now have a building that is safe and weathertight.
- We agreed plans and commissioned architectural drawings for the reconfiguration of the internal layout of the church and the provision of new facilities to enable it to be used for a variety of functions, as a local community facility, as an educational resource, for hosting fund-raising events, and as a continuing place of worship.
- We arranged a professional technical specification for the restoration and conservation of the medieval wall paintings on the north wall and above the chancel arch.
- We went out to tender for the works and for the wall paintings
- We sold a small piece of land that previously housed a derelict village hall
- We were given generous personal donations towards our project
- We were granted permission to carry out the works and the conservation of the wall paintings through a faculty issued by the Norwich Diocese in August 2019.
..……..and this is where we are now.
The church building has now new life and vibrancy whilst respecting tradition and spiritual sanctity – a place where everyday secular life can sit side by side with religious life, which is a return to how it would have been when it was built in the C14th!
The rare medieval wall paintings have been conserved, opening them up to new, all age audiences through a programme of interpretation and activities inspired by the paintings’ physical conservation, through the stories they tell and through their historical context and significance. Our Activity Co-ordinator will deliver ‘Medieval Mysteries’ art and history workshops for the Coastal Federation of Schools Key Stage 2 pupils, who will also help to write and design a new interpretive trail for the church, focussed around the wall paintings . This will involve and immerse staff and pupils in heritage, enabling them to better explain and identify it for other children and families and in the process becoming ‘heritage ambassadors’.
Environmental sustainability activities in the churchyard, and walks and trails in the surrounding area promoted..
Open space has been created towards the rear of the church through removal of seven rows of pews on either side of the central aisle, shortening another three rows and relocation the font from the rear to the middle of the church
The church now has a mains water supply, accessible toilet and washroom, kitchen area and servery, heating and storage. All to enable the space to be used flexibly for a variety of purposes by our local community, visitors, and interest groups and for fund-raising events, displays and exhibitions,
Finally to anchor and contextualise the heritage programme, we plan to introduce over coming months and years a number of environmental sustainability activities around the church, including a wild-flower meadow, a nature trail through the churchyard, the promotion of local walks and trails, and the introduction of additional bird and bat boxes.
Please come and see the church. We are once more now open every day and there’s plenty of parking.
Please consider contributing to our funds for maintaining the church You can do this by leaving a donation in the secure box inside the church or alternatively by sending a cheque or arranging an electronic transfer direct into our bank account. Should you wish to do either of these, please email our churchwarden and he will provide you with the necessary details: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you very much for taking the time to read about what we have been doing, which we hope you have found interesting, and we look forward to seeing you soon in Paston!
Church address – Bacton Road, Paston, North Walsham, Norfolk, NR28 9TA
Paston Heritage Society https://www.thisispaston.co.uk
The Paston Footprints Project https://www.thisispaston.co.uk
The Deep History Coast https://www.visitnorthnorfolk.com