An abandoned Medieval Sussex church which is on English Heritage’s At Risk list of imperilled buildings and a Grade II-listed Victorian Oxfordshire sawmill have earned more than £1.2 million in Heritage Lottery Fund awards.
Combe Mill, a working industrial museum on the Blenheim Estate described as a “rare time capsule” of 19th century industrial and social heritage, will use a £768,000 grant to become a must-see for tourists.
“The Mill has the potential to become a major heritage attraction,” said Stuart McLeod, the Head of the HLF for the South-East.
“The saw mill and its surviving artefacts are truly rare examples of our fascinating industrial heritage, and when this site is restored to its former glory it will have the opportunity to offer a real Victorian experience to rival that of any in the UK.”
The mill dates to 1852, when it ran on water and steam. A mill on the site was first mentioned in the Domesday Book, and Combe’s closure as a commercial enterprise in the 1950s left behind early machinery and a blacksmith’s forge from more than 150 years ago.
“The enthusiasm of our visitors and the local community for the Mill to be conserved has been rewarded,” said Tony Simmons, the chairman of the volunteer-run society which cares for the mill.
“We can now remedy more than 50 years of neglect to secure this fascinating place for generations to come.”
In Hastings, stonework experts and a community archaeology project will revitalise Old St Helen’s Church, an 11th century ruin abandoned in 1869 and taken over by the Sussex Heritage Trust 20 years ago.
It is thought to hold unprecedented Saxon and early Norman archaeological remains, including 80 tombs and Medieval foundations.
"This project represents the last opportunity to save this important monument for future generations,” warned Christopher Gebbie, the Trust’s Chairman. “We have a dedicated team of professionals and local supporters to help us in the work.”