The Way Forward: St Mary’s Church, Stebbing

The Way Forward: St Mary’s Church, Stebbing

The outside of a stone English parish church with a graveyard in the foreground
The church of St Mary the Virgin in Stebbing, Essex. Credit: John Salmon.

National Lottery Grants for Heritage – £250,000 to £5million

Date awarded
Felsted & Stebbing
Local Authority
Parochial Church Council of St Mary’s, Stebbing
Award Given
At the church of St Mary the Virgin in Stebbing, Essex, a programme of major repairs and improvement will remove the church from the Heritage at Risk register and create an inviting community hub.

Works to the 14th-century Grade I listed church include renewing the heating and electrical systems, installing a new kitchen and repairing and levelling the floor. Replacing pews with flexible seating will create new opportunities for activities and events, and reconfiguring the church’s entrance will make the building more accessible for the community.

The project’s activity programme was designed collaboratively with the community. It will reimagine how people encounter St Mary’s Church, organised around themes including environmental heritage, interpreting the church’s history and architecture and community wellbeing.

New staff and volunteer roles will manage activities from concerts to classes and connect the church to wider village life. An Ecologist in residence will record the natural heritage surrounding the church and engage people with caring for nature. The project is also creating new resources such as interpretation and family activity packs, hoping to attract a broader range of people to the church.

Recent research has uncovered the church's surprising centuries-long ties to the Knights Hospitaller Crusader order. As part of the project, a Historian in Residence will further research St Mary’s part in supporting the Crusades and create interpretation to sensitively explore this chapter of the church’s 700-year history with visitors.

Training for staff and volunteers will develop their transferrable skills from risk assessment, food hygiene and first aid to autism awareness, tour guide and customer service communication.

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