The freehold of our churches is held by Norwich City Council, which in 1973 set up the Norwich Historic Churches Trust to care for them. The Trust holds eighteen churches on 99-year leases, and is responsible for their repair, maintenance and management. It is a registered charity.
The Trustees are appointed by the City Council. The Trust is not an open membership body, so the Friends was set up as a body to support the Trustees in their work and help raise public awareness of this historic legacy.
The Trust no longer receives core funding from Norwich City Council or any other body, so it is dependent on rent from those churches that are let, one-off grants from English Heritage and other bodies, and donations. It seeks both to maintain the fabric of the churches, and to improve their amenities so that they are attractive to tenants and suitable for modern-day uses. Many of the churches still lack toilets, kitchen facilities and heating, so there is much that needs to be done.
Members of the Friends include academics, tenants of the churches and many people with a more general interest in Norwich’s heritage. Although our events are held in Norwich, you can join the Friends wherever you live. The Friends is a nonprofit unincorporated society, and all profits from its activities are donated to the Trust.
Although both the Trust and its Friends have close links with the Diocese of Norwich, neither is a religious body. Our major concern is with the heritage of our city.
Our New Home Base
Since May 2017 the friends have been based at the new home of the trust at St Martin-at-Palace situated near the law courts at the junction of Whitefriars and Bishopsgate. St Martin’s is being developed as an exhibition and study centre. Currently the Church is open to visitors on Tuesdays and Thursdays 10 am – 4 pm and staffed by volunteers from the Friends . There are plenty of opportunities for contributions here: showing visitors around, sprucing up the building, improving the garden etc.
How to donate
As well as supporting the churches by joining the Friends, you can make a donation direct to the Trust. Donations which can be one-off or regular payments, and can be earmarked for a specific purpose or contributed to general funds.
Donations are best made direct to the Trust, which can receive Gift Aid on them; contact Trust administrator Stella Eglinton (firstname.lastname@example.org; tel. 01603 611530 or 07775 968890) for more information.