Historic England steps in to help save town's crumbling treasure

Becket's Chapel, in Wymondham, will be restored thanks to £400,000 of Historic England funding

Becket's Chapel, in Wymondham, will be restored thanks to £400,000 of Historic England funding - Credit: Historic England

A project to save a crumbling medieval chapel has been given a £400,000 funding boost.

The Grade I listed Becket's Chapel in Wymondham has been awarded the six-figure grant from Historic England to finance vital repairs.

Dating back to the 1300s, the chapel has also served as a school, a library and a lock-up.

In 2018 it was added to Historic England's Heritage at Risk register, due to urgent repairs needed to its roof, gutters, drainage and masonry.

The roof of St Becket's Chapel, which is set to be repaired

The roof of St Becket's Chapel, which is set to be repaired - Credit: Historic England

But now, new life is set to be breathed into the building, with essential restorations to its structure and fabric set to be carried out.

Trudi Hughes, a surveyor from Historic England, said: "I'm delighted we've found a way to save and repair this remarkable chapel using traditional repairs and techniques combined with measures to reduce dampness and improve its carbon footprint.

English Heritage's regional launch of the Places of Worship at Risk campaign. Pictured: (L) chair of

Trudi Hughes, surveyor for Historic England - Credit: IAN BURT

"This striking building has such a story to tell, having had a fascinating and varied history. 

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"It's wonderful that this gem of a building will once again be at the heart of its local community."

The building is being purchased by the Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust, which plans to repair the chapel and convert it into a community hub.

The trust has already received £51,000 in grant funding from Historic England and £45,000 from the Architectural Heritage Fund for the project.

Judith Harwood, chair of Norfolk Historic Building Trust said: "We are delighted to have secured the funding for the first phase of this exciting project to repair and upgrade Becket's Chapel.

"This extraordinary chapel, right in the heart of the historic centre of Wymondham, is of significant architectural and historical importance.

"We are relieved that its future can now be assured for the benefit of the local community through the generous support of our funders."

The chapel, which was founded in the late 12th century, was dedicated to St Thomas á Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury murdered in his cathedral by knights of Henry II in 1170, under circumstances which are still disputed.

The current building dates to between 1300 and 1350, when it was rebuilt.

In 1559, it was converted into a school and for a period in the 17th century was used as a lock-up for prisoners as they waited trial.