Lottery funding saves Old St Helen’s Church

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THE future of one of Hastings’s oldest buildings has been secured thanks to a £470,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

The grant has been awarded to the Sussex Heritage Trust, which plans to start an extensive conservation project on the Old St Helen’s Church in Ore, next spring.

All that now remains of the Grade II listed building is the tower, the east wall, and the north wall.

There are several phases to the conservation project, which will begin with stabilisation of the ruin, which has been unused since 1869, when the new St Helen’s Church was built on The Ridge.

Sussex Heritage Trust trustee Kenneth Bird, said: “We have had a huge amount of community support for this project, so had a very strong case to put to the Heritage Lottery Fund.”

Access will also be improved in the hope that more visitors will be attracted to the site, which is on the English Heritage ‘At Risk’ register.

In particular the internal staircase in the tower will be repaired, meaning visitors will be able to take advantage of a panoramic view over Hastings.

A community archaeology project, new historical interpretation, and other projects for local interest groups will complement the conservation work, which is due to be completed in summer 2013.

The burial ground in the church yard is of particular interest, containing around 80 tombs and undisturbed medieval foundations.

Stuart McLeod, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the south east, said: “We are delighted to be able to help the Sussex Heritage Trust in its mission to save the building and bring its history alive for future generations.”