Craftsmen help restore threatened village church
PUBLISHED: 06:30 14 August 2015
Archant Norfolk © 2015
Local craftsmen have carried out vital improvement work to a Saxon-aged church which was threatened with closure before the local community stepped in to ensure its survival.
St Matthias Church in Thorpe-Next-Haddiscoe, had been run by local farming family the Farrows for more than 50 years before they left three years ago and the building was in need of serious repair.
A call to the community from the rector Nick Will meant a committee was formed, led by church warden Bill Cooper, and the response by people in the surrounding villages has helped restore it to its former glory.
A small and dedicated band got together and cleaned the church, completely re-thatched the roof and the latest addition has been new louvres made by carpenter Wayne Snell.
Mr Cooper said: “They are in oak, as were the original ones, and Mr Snell has ensured that the bats can still get in but the jackdaws cannot.
“People have been wonderful. Just this week I had a telephone call from a lady who had raised £100 by selling flowers outside her house.
“We now have a group of about 15 helpers - the youngest 17 and the oldest in the 80s.
“It’s nice but it would be good if we could get more younger people.”
The church itself dates back to the Saxon period, with the lower parts of the church’s tower Saxon but the top appears to have been altered after the Norman Conquest
The Nave is believed to be Saxon with windows added in the 14th or 15th century.
The tower contains two bells which are believed to be from the 15th century.
To celebrate the newly restored building, twice-yearly concerts have been planned which started in the spring with a tuba and trombone recital by Frankie Ayres accompanied by Alison Lincoln on the piano and Sam Brackenbury on the saxophone.
The concert was free but donations were taken at the interval which were shared between the performers and the church.
An autumn concert is planned for Saturday, October 24, at 7pm, when El Gato’s Men will be playing - a local group who play blues, rock, jazz and classical - and organisers hope they will attract people from across the region.
Organisers hope more people will be attracted to play in the church, in particular, young musicians and those interested are asked to get in touch with Bill Cooper on 01508 548987 or Alison 01502 677525.
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