As part of the funding application, the PCC has come up with a community project concerning Reepham’s “third church”.
To enter a churchyard and discover two churches is a little unusual; yet in Reepham, there were once three.
Legend has it that three sisters each had their own church, but what is certain is that the parish boundaries of the manors of Reepham, Hackford and Whitwell all met in or near the churchyard.
The “three churches in one churchyard” is believed to be unique in the British Isles and one of only two places in Europe.
Reepham St Mary is now the single parish church, serving the three parishes of Reepham, Whitwell and Hackford, which were united in the 1930s.
St Michael & All Angels, formerly the parish church of Whitwell until it became redundant 1970, is mainly used as a community building, although it remains consecrated.
The third church, Hackford All Saints, is believed to have been destroyed in the “Great Fire of Reepham” in 1543.
The church tower and remaining ruins were demolished in 1796 and now only a fragment of the wall remains.
At a public consultation meeting on 6 November, archaeologist and cultural heritage consultant Dr Natasha Hutcheson explained that a successful HLF project under the “Places of Worship” category could be awarded up to £250,000.
While this funding would focus on urgent structural repairs, it would also need to involve the community to ensure there is some public benefit, she said.
As part of the project, it is suggested to research the history of Hackford All Saints and mark out its location to create a contemplative space and/or a garden; a trail through the churches and churchyard could also be fashioned.
Further, space inside St Mary’s could be used for display boards and information, and access to the Hackford All Saints site could be improved.
Other suggestions include holding a community archaeology day, undertaking a geophysical survey of the site, involving the local schools and having a regular town event.
If the Stage 1 application is successful, the project will move to a development phase, and if this proves positive, it will move to a delivery phase.
“Reepham is an extraordinary place in its design with its magnificent market place and the view down to St Michael’s tower,” said Revd Margaret Dean, the rector of Reepham Benefice. “These churches are in our inheritance within this community, they belong to all of us.”
The fate of the funding application will not be known until March 2015. If it is successful a development plan will seek to draw in more community involvement and the PCC will be looking for ideas from other local community groups and individuals.
A committee is being formed to co-ordinate the project as it unfolds. In the meantime, any suggestions can be forwarded to Revd Margaret Dean, The Rectory, 26 Station Road, Reepham, Norfolk NR10 4LJ. Tel: 01603 879275. Email: email@example.com