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14th century English church awarded funds for conservation project

St Mary Cowbit - photo by Rodney BurtonSt Mary’s Church in the English village of Cowbit has received £8,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a project to conserve and communicate the heritage of the 14th-century building and its clock.

The project, led by volunteers from the Lincolnshire community, will repair and improve the clock in the church tower and help promote the heritage of the medieval landmark. The work will start very soon and the project will be completed by the end of 2015.

The grant will allow vital repairs to be carried out to the clock and belfry floor. It will enable new and existing volunteers to undertake research visits to relevant projects, exhibitions and institutions and to work with the National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies (NADFAS) and local school children to develop church trails. This learning will be shared with a wider audience via a display and workshop. A clock commemoration event is planned at the end of the project.

The official project launch will be held at Cowbit St Mary on Saturday 11 April starting at 14:30. This will be an opportunity to meet and share memories of Cowbit and the church. The highlight of the afternoon will be a talk by Darlah and Steve Thomas on the famous manufacturer of the clock (J B Joyce of Whitchurch, Shropshire).

The Grade I listed Cowbit Saint Mary’s, founded by the Prior of Spalding in 1384, is an important local landmark at the centre of the fenland village of Cowbit. A chancel and perpendicular tower were added by Bishop Russell of Lincoln in 1487, and restoration work was carried out in 1882. The clock project is planned as the first of many initiatives to help revive the village, the quality of life for residents and to communicate the Cowbit heritage before it is lost to future generations.

Commenting on the award, Dr Shirley Pugh said, “We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and are confident the project will ensure the long term future of the clock and help attract visitors back to this historic landmark.”

Vanessa Harbar, Head of HLF East Midlands, added: “The historic St Mary’s Church is the focal point of the Cowbit community and an important local Lincolnshire landmark. The Heritage Lottery Fund’s investment to restore its clock and belfry floor is a vital first step in reviving interest in the church and strengthening the sense of community within the village.”

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