A LONDON church has secured a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of more than £1 million to turn it into a “Unique Forest Church”, and take it off the at-risk register.
St Peter-in-the-Forest, Walthamstow, in Chelmsford diocese, has been awarded £1.37 million by the HLF to help deliver the project of turning it into “St Peter’s: A Unique Forest Church”.
The award is a substantial part of the £1.88 million needed to correct serious structural damage to the Grade II listed church, built in 1840.
The Vicar of St Peter-in-the-Forest, the Revd Paul Trathen, said that it was “tremendous, good news for our community, here in Walthamstow, and beyond”.
“It is a place quite like no other: a unique meeting of modern city and ancient forest, of beautiful architecture crafted by human creativity, surrounded by the natural creation of a loving God.
“Exciting times are ahead, and we are looking forward to working with many existing and new partners in crafting and growing great community projects, alongside restoring and repairing our precious building and churchyard.”
DIOCESE OF CHELMSFORDAn artist’s impression of the future St Peter-in-the-Forest
The west end of the church will be restored to its 1880s design, and three flexible community spaces will be created over two floors. The church hopes that these will be used for acting, filmmaking, arts, crafts, and forest activities. A new community café will also be built, and there is also the possibility an annual festival, “The Forestival”.
The Area Bishop of Barking, the Rt Revd Peter Hill, said: “This hugely generous grant will be transformative for both the building and the provision of community facilities, which will enhance the mission of the church.
“In particular, the community café will combat social isolation, and the additional facilities will enrich the cultural and educational offer of a parish which has great leadership from its vicar and its forward-looking congregation.”
The chief executive of HLF, Ros Kerslake, said: “Whilst historically important buildings, what makes places of worship like St Peter’s-in-the-Forest so precious is their place in the heart of local communities.
“Surrounded by stunning forest, National Lottery funding will not only save this at-risk church but it will encourage more people to use and enjoy it.”