Lottery revamp for ruined Annesley village church

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A RUINED church in Annesley with links to Lord Byron and DH Lawrence is to be transformed with the help of £450,000 of lottery cash.

All Saints’ Church - known locally as Annesley Old Church - is set for a new lease of life following the award by the Heritage Lottery Fund, with Ashfield District Council also contributing cash.

The church, built in 1356, is in a sorry state after falling into major disrepair since the building of the newer Annesley All Saints’ Church in 1874, a response to the needs of miners working at Annesley Colliery.

The roof collapsed decades ago and the site is normally off limits to the public because of safety issues.

But now there are plans to bring the site into the 21st Century by making it safe for visitors and using its redevelopment to provide training and skills for local community groups.

Dennis Hill, heritage development officer for Ashfield District Council, said: “This is fantastic news and we cannot wait to get started on the project.“

The site’s historic links to the poet Lord Byron stem from his romantic involvement with Mary Ann Chaworth, who lived yards from the old church at Annesley Hall.

Mary ended up marrying another man, John Musters, in 1805 at the church. Lord Byron wrote about Annesley in some of his early work.

The church also gets a mention in the work of Nottinghamshire writer DH Lawrence. In The White Peacock, published in 1911, he has some less than kind words to say about the ‘rotting’ old building.

The church held its last service in 1942, despite being in poor condition and was sold to Ashfield District Council in 1981.

The authority lowered the roofless walls and part of the tower.

Gregory Pickup, grants officer for the Heritage Lottery Fund, said the project would have a number of benefits for the local area.

“This is going to be a project that will involve the whole community,” he said “Credit must go to Ashfield District Council who put the time and money into putting the application together for this grant.”

Ashfield district councillor Steve Carroll said: “We must thank our officers who worked so hard to secure this money.”

Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero said it was time more local groups benefitted from lottery cash.

The district ranks 339th in the country in terms of total grants received since the Lottery scheme was set up in 1995. Mansfield is ranked 225th and South Nottingham is 31st.

“This is a great deal of money and it is about time this area started to get its fair share. We have got so many areas of huge historical interest which need this funding.”