Visit Nunney and the Friends of Nunney Church have applied for a grant to set up an interactive community archive and heritage centre in the church.
The Friends of Nunney Church were established in 2008 to restore the nave ceiling of All Saints Church in Nunney. The original 15th century barrel-vaulted ceiling was removed in 1956 after it rotted away.
More than £160,000 has already been raised towards the £260,000 needed for a new ceiling. The ‘temporary’ plastic ceiling tiles have already been removed. Work could start in early 2016.
Four dormer windows that until 1956 flooded the church with natural light will also be restored as part of the project.
Once the ceiling and windows are in place, the Postlebury parochial church council that runs Nunney Church hopes to make £50,000 worth of further improvements, including better heating and lighting.
The creation of a toilet in the Grade I listed monument will take up most of this budgetl but is long overdue.
The newly restored church is Nunney’s oldest monument, with origins that go back at least 200 years further than those of Nunney Castle. It is also the largest building in use in the village.
The church will continue to be used for religious services – including baptisms, marriages and funerals – as it has been for over 800 years.
In addition to its use as a place of worship, the Friends of Nunney Church hope to make the interior more flexible in use, including a visitor and heritage centre, exhibitions, talks and concerts.
Nunney Church is visited by over 13,000 tourists each year, plus thousands more during Nunney Street Market & Fayre which this year saw over 10,000 visitors.
Visit Nunney has provided practical support to the project, by developing and producing a new Raise the Roof exhbition, brochure and website. We also continue to display our popular local history exhibitions in the church.
Better visitor information
Visit Nunney, the Friends of Nunney Church and other stakeholders hold regular meetings to plan the future use of the church. The aim is to create facilities that don’t compete with the village hall, but add value to both the local community and visitors.
At the top of the wishlist has long been to provide visitors with better information on our local heritage. Interpretation boards at the castle are small and provide limited background information.
The church’s new exhibitions help, but still provide little information on specific aspects, such as the interesting medieval and Tudor effigies.
Despite its moated 14th century castle and over thirty other listed monuments, Nunney distinctly lacks facilities to really engage visitors and persuade them to make our village a worthwhile stop-over between Bath, Longleat, Stonehenge and other popular attractions in the region.
Tourism is important to the village, because it not only helps to keep our village shop, pub, hotel, B&Bs and café open but also creates local jobs – especially for young people.
A survey conducted by Visit Nunney and the Friends of Nunney Church among visitors to the church and village highlighted the need for better visitor information.
After looking at a wide range of options, the project partners have now submitted an application for a £6,000 grant from the Local Legacy Fund. A total of £200,000 has been made available by Mendip District Council for the Local Legacy Fund for the financial year 2015/16.
Projects need to meet at least one of the council’s strategic priorities and either:
- Add to the health and wellbeing of the community
- Create educational, training or work opportunities for the community
- Improve the quality of life of the community
Applications to the Local Legacy Fund are for projects costing over £5,000 and can come from a range of groups – community and voluntary organisations, parish and town councils, village halls, social interest groups and community interest companies, such as Visit Nunney.
Projects that received funding over the last 2 years include:
- Kilmersdon Community Park Committee – £15,000 towards a new playground and community park
- Cheese and Grain venue (Frome) – £15,000 towards setting up an enterprise and training hub and summer university
- Pilton Playing Field Committee – £20,000 towards the creation of a new skate park for the village
- Shepton Mallet United Charities – £25,000 for the renovation of eight almshouses for vulnerable elderly residents
- Heads Up, South Horrington – £6,150 – towards tools, equipment and materials for a range of projects supporting mental well-being
- Trudoxhill Organising a Playground – £5,000 – towards a new playground for Trudoxhill
Nunney Parish Council is also understood to have applied for a grant towards the costs of constructing a new bus shelter in the Market Place.
The case for a community archive that can engage, educate and entertain is a strong one. All over Nunney and beyond are photos, event programmes, homemade footage, minutes and more that provide a rich perspective on our village’s recent and not so recent past.
We can scan all of these – free of charge, of course – and add them to the interactive community archive.
These collections matter, because they are not just nice to have, but can provide a very important link with the past.
Visit Nunney’s vast archive has already helped people with planning applications (proving that a property used to have a porch, for example) and reunited others with photos of lost friends and relatives.
Paul Holdaway recognised his mother in the arms of his grandmother in the above photo of Nunney residents in the Market Place in 1943.
Others recognised a lost brother, his best friend and another boy in our photos of the Nunney boy scouts. All three were tragically killed in traffic accidents, at Nunney Catch and Beckington respectively.
Nunney is popular with people all over the world who are researching their family tree too.
If the Visit Nunney / Friends of Nunney Church bid is successful, the grant will fund an interactive, multi-touch information kiosk of museum and heritage centre quality.
The kiosk consists of a free-standing screen with in-built sound system. Similar displays are already in use in cathedrals and churches across the UK.
They provide a simple, cost-effective and versatile solution to tell members of the public more about local heritage without having interpretative text, sound systems or projections all over the church.
This means that visitors to the church will be able to access information, photos and videos to learn about the history of the village, castle and church by simply touching the screen.
The kiosk will not only make local heritage accessible to tourists in a very engaging way, but will create a valuable community archive for Nunney residents – including local school children.
It can store thousands of old photos, postcards and historic documents as well as a unique oral history archive of video clips of Nunney residents recounting their memories of the village when they were young.
“This fantastic new resource will make the church even more accessible to those interested in our rich cultural heritage, encouraging them to stay longer and allowing them to learn in a more modern and interesting way,” Churchwarden Hilary Allom said.
Visit Nunney and the Friends of Nunney Church hope that the new kiosk, if the bid is successful, will attract residents who would not otherwise set foot in the church.
Residents and others will also be able to add their own photos, documents, videos and memories to the archive to create a real community asset.