Over a million pounds is to be devoted to promoting the heritage of the Isle and Hatfield Chase, with a future legacy to ensure projects continue to thrive.
Groups are submitting bids now for a share of the Heritage Lottery funding. Among the hopefuls is the Epworth Heritage Forum, with three specific projects in mind.
Alongside major bidders such as the RSPB, the Epworth forum hopes to achieve three significant gains for the town and is keen to involve the community in its aspirations.
Its first option is for a detailed exploration of the area of Vinegarth. south of Epworth Church. This site is where Roger de Mowbray built his manor house and a part excavation took place in the 1970s, when shards of pottery and a Mowbray tile, linked to the kitchen floor of the manor, were found.
But the trenches covered only a small area and the group, headed by Melvyn Rose on this bid, hopes to gain radar or a wider geo-physical survey to expand on previous findings. A stone or similar marker on site would depict what the manor would have looked like.
The Avenue to Epworth Church cuts across Vinegarth, and in the late 1800s a cannon was dug up in this vicinity. Other indicators may be discovered, and the group hopes to rebuild the stone wall on the right of the Avenue.
A second project headed by the Rev David Leese is for an Isle Methodist Trail, with boards in the Isle’s main villages referencing John Wesley’s time spent and activity in each village. A leaflet would provide a guide and a walking route is an added possibility with Epworth at its centre.
The third bid, led by Bob Fish, is for three visitor boards in Epworth, overlooking the existing open field system that relates back to strip farming in the 1600’s. He said: “These would give visitors some perspective on what the land would have been like when there was little housing. it could be that schoolchildren could get involved with designing the boards, or even take part in supervised digs.” Anyone with ideas, or who is willing to contribute in any way, should get in touch with a member of Epworth Heritage Forum, he added.
“These bids are a small part of what will be a huge project involving big players such as Natural England. But the funding is there for smaller schemes too. We will be bidding for approximately £60,000 in total.”