WORK to save St Mary’s Church on the Ickworth Estate will start soon, thanks to a £714,500 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The Grade II* listed church, which dates from the 13th century, has been on the English Heritage At Risk List since it was started in 1998.
It was bought by the Seventh Marquess of Bristol in 1986 after being declared redundant by the Church Commissioners and has been the resting place for his family since 1467.
But with the backing of the current Lord Bristol, an Ickworth Church Conservation Trust was set up in 2006 and the restoration journey began.
John Ette, English Heritage east of England team leader, said: “We could really have only done the emergency works. The real art was getting a partnership together with Lord Bristol, HLF and the National Trust.”
English Heritage funded £37,000 of the £57,300 spent in 2008 on emergency repairs. It is contributing £224,600 to the £972,400 project which should be complete in April.
Lord Bristol said: “I’m thrilled and relieved it’s moving forward. My family have been buried here for 540 years. It’s defining where you come from.”
His father, the Sixth Earl was interred there in 2010 after being repatriated from Monaco where he died in 1985. That service was the last held there.