The Work of the Norwich Historic Churches Trust
Everywhere you go in Norwich, you see a church. They come in all sizes and shapes. There are so many that they are often overlooked! But they form a collection of unparalleled importance: no other city north of the Alps has so many surviving mediæval churches.
In 1967, there was a major review of the city centre churches, and the Diocese of Norwich decided that only eight of the thirty-one mediaeval churches were needed for worship the remainder were at risk of demolition unless they qualified for financial assistance from the Redundant Churches Fund or if no suitable alternative uses could be found. Thus the Norwich Historic Churches Trust (NHCT) was set up in 1973 to care for most of the unneeded ones.
The Trust holds its churches on 99 year leases and is responsible for their repair, maintenance and management. They have a responsibility to seek new and suitable uses in particular those which are for ‘civic, public or educational purposes or for storage’ . Thus today the NHCT are landlords for the : Norwich Arts Centre, the Norwich Puppet Theatre and more recently for the Hungate Medieval Arts Centre.
Many of the churches taken over by the Trust were in a poor state of repair. With limited funding our strategy has been to ensure that all properties are structurally sound and watertight. The programme has been determined by the availability of funds in any one year often dependent upon grants from either English Heritage or the City Council. Additional income is derived from rents, grants and donations . The former cover the Trust's modest management and administrative expenses, the insurance premiums on unlet churches and minor house-keeping repairs. We are wholly dependent upon grants and donations for all significant repair works.
Since its formation, we have considered a vast number of applications and proposals for our buildings. To be acceptable proposals need to be both viable and appropriate and involve tenants raising funds, often through an appeal, in order to meet the capital cost of adaptation.
The Trust is proud of its achievements over the last 30 years. The former church buildings, continue to be a distinctive and unique part of the City's streetscene. We are never complacent work hard ensure these beautiful buildings continue to be a vital and much cherished part of the City's cultural and architectural heritage.
If you would like to know more about the Norwich Historic Churches Trust, whether it be gaining access to individual buildings, taking on the tenancy of a redundant church or just finding out more about what we do please contact:
The Trust administrator: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel. 01603 611530