Celebration to mark the start of church porch repair work

The second phase of work is starting on the south porch at St Michael's Church in Beccles. Picture:

The second phase of work is starting on the south porch at St Michael's Church in Beccles. Picture: Nick Butcher. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A celebration to mark the start of the second phase of work on a historic church porch is being held this weekend.

The work on the south porch at St Michael’s Church in Beccles will concentrate on conserving the exterior of the porch, which was built in around 1450 and is one of the largest medieval porches in Suffolk.

It follows an appeal launched in 2016 by the Friends of St Michael’s to raise the funds needed for the exterior project, with fears the delicate tracery of the stonework could be lost forever to weathering.

However before the exterior conservation could be addressed, urgent work had to be carried out to make the internal stairway safe, restore the broken pinnacle and make the roof weather-tight.

The church had obtained a grant to repair the roofs of both the north and south porches, but the remainder of the work had to be paid for by money raised locally, with the Friends group raising £26,000 towards that first phase of work.

And with Medieval Masonry now commissioned to carry out the second phase, which is expected to cost around £87,000, scaffolding has been put in place for work to get under way.

Much of it will concentrate on the removal of surface dirt, sulphuration and organic matter, but will also tackle minor repairs and repointing where necessary, as well as sympathetic restoration of some small areas. Old cement repairs or those that have failed will be redone with lime mortar to prevent the ingress of water and measures will be taken to prevent or minimise further deterioration.

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To celebrate the commencement of the work, there will be a gathering at St Michael’s Church on Sunday, July 15, at 7pm at which drinks and light refreshments will be served. One of the Beccles Feoffees, Jennifer Langeskov, will give a talk on the Beccles Townlands Trust, who have pledged a generous sum towards the work.

A spokesman said: “Without the trust it would not have been possible to start the work this year – and we had already been warned that delay would cause further deterioration of the stonework which would not be reversible.”

There will also be a display of photos showing the progress of the work.

The Friends of St Michael’s will also be holding their annual general meeting after the talk, and new members are welcome to join.