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The Parish Church of St Wulfram, Grantham

This church is a noble building in every aspect, one of the largest medieval churches in the country, seating around 700 people.  Simon  Jenkins in his book "England''s Thousand Best Churches" awards it a five star rating, in part for the tower and spire.  "Here is the finest steeple in England", he writes.  Constructed in the early 1300s, at 282 ft. the spire is one of the highest in the country on a parish church, dominating the views of the town. The church is built of Lincolnshire limestone, probably from around the Ancaster area.

For the last two years the spire has been undergoing renovation of the top third and the whole spire and the west end of the church has been clothed in scaffolding. The last of the scaffolding came down at the end of June (2015) and we can enjoy an uncluttered view of the spire again.

This Parish Church has been fortunate to enjoy the benefits of a thriving musical tradition for many years based around an active choir and a magnificent 4 manual organ. This has enabled the church to fulfil its role as a place of worship for its parishioners as well as a centre for civic occasions for the town and local schools. It is an exciting challenge to sustain and build on this tradition.

The Music Director at St Wulfram's

Dr Tim Williams was appointed as Director of Music in January 2008. He is committed to a programme of steady growth, training, education and development of the music of the church.

He has now been at St Wulfram's seven years and the choir has grown substantially in both numbers and the quality and range of music performed. A Youth Choir is well established, and the outreach to local schools has started. Our first organ scholar was appointed and has moved on to greater things - see article on Joe Beech later. We have commissioned our first piece of music - a Carol by James Whitbourn called The Magi's Dream - which had its World premiere at the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols in 2012. The choir has sung at many Cathedrals including York, St Paul's, Canterbury, Durham, Lincoln and Salisbury - and have been invited to go back again to both York, St Paul's and Canterbury! The choir made its first broadcast performance of a service of Sunday Morning Worship for Radio 4 in 2016.

The Philip Lank Trust

In October 2008, this foundation was established as a charitable trust to underpin this work and attract the funds to enable this to happen.

The Objects of the trust are: " To advance the education of the parishioners of St Wulfram’s Church Grantham and the town of Grantham and the local region by the provision of a centre of training to enhance, safeguard and sustain the highest standards of sacred and secular choral and organ music, and for the general benefit of the community and to further such charitable purpose or purposes as the trustees in their absolute discretion shall from time to time determine"

The trustees aim to provide, as its resources permit, financial support:

These activities require the services and commitment of a full-time Music Director, as well as some supporting funds for the outreach activities. The Philip Lank Trust is seeking to create a substantial endowment, so that these may be funded on a permanent basis out of interest on the endowment.

As well as setting up the trust, work has started on the musical outreach to local schools and the St Wulfram’s Youth Choir has been formed. We now support the tuition of 3 choristers on the organ (having promoted 2 more choristers onto the RSCM Pipeline Scheme) and subsidise the choristers' costs for the cathedral visits so that no child should be unable to attend for financial reasons. In 2016 an award from the Ouseley trust enabled us to set up a Chorister Scholarship scheme for those moving from the treble line to sing alto tenor or bass in the Youth Choir.

As the endowment grows through donations, grants and bequests, we shall be able to increase the range of activities that the trust can support.

The trustees aim to publish a newsletter once a year to keep donors, friends and choir members past and present informed on what we are doing. The latest newsletter is available to download here

Philip Lank

The trust has been named after Philip Lank, who has done so much for music making in Grantham, and St Wulfram’s in particular where he was Organist and Choirmaster for 23 years.

This picture was taken before the gilding of the organ case was done in 1972 as part of the Bishop Geoffrey Warde bequest.

He was also the first Conductor of the Grantham Choral Society which he led for over 30 years, and helped to launch the Grantham Music Festival.

He remains a strong supporter of those organisations he has contributed so much to.

A message from the Bishop of Grantham

"I took part in the services over Easter in 2016 in St Wulfram’s. I was amazed and uplifted by the standard of music provided by the choir, and by the enthusiasm of the large number of young people who were involved.

The training that they receive – both spiritual and musical – is a gift beyond imagining. This does not happen by accident, but by leadership, commitment by parents as well as participants and musical skill. The work that the trust does to support this rich tradition of choral singing is essential in helping to meet the financial requirements that make this possible.

The recent development for the trust to award 6 Choral Scholarships to young people aged 16 to 19 is most exciting, with the first scholars taking up their posts in September 2016.

I am particularly keen to encourage the outreach activities supported by the trust. Many parish churches smaller than St Wulfram’s do not have the chance to take part in a service of choral evensong. So taking this choral tradition out to the outlying parishes is most welcome.

I wish this venture every success."

Rt Revd Dr Nicholas Chamberlain, Suffragan Bishop of Grantham