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Church to celebrate 600th birthday

PUBLISHED: 09:00 04 June 2010 | UPDATED: 09:46 01 August 2010

FOR hundreds of years it has been a place of gathering for the people of Beccles in times of joy and sorrow.

And next month St Michael's Church will celebrate a major milestone when it reaches its 600th birthday.

FOR hundreds of years it has been a place of gathering for the people of Beccles in times of joy and sorrow.

And next month St Michael's Church will celebrate a major milestone when it reaches its 600th birthday.

Over the weekend of July 2- 4, the church will host a flower festival and celebration service to which all are invited.

The church's beginnings can be traced to 1369, when a group of medieval architects and monks marked out a shape on some rough ground at the top of a high coastal cliff in the small town of Beccles.

Some 50 years later, in about 1410, the church was finally completed as a new generation of builders put the finishing touches to the ornate stone carvings and pinnacles.

Some 600 years later Beccles is no longer a coastal port, and the town has changed completely. However St Michael's Church still stands today much as it did in 1410, apart from the addition of the 16th century detached tower.

St Michael's has served the people of Beccles from just after the years of the Black Death to the modern world of the 21st century.” Rev John Beauchamp, rector at the church, said: “I'm not sure that the builders in 1369 could have imagined that their efforts would be being celebrated all these years later, but it is a testimony to their skill and to the grace of God that St Michael's still plays an important part in the life of the town.

“I hope many will come and enjoy our festival weekend as we thank God for St Michael's and look to its future for the town and its community.”

Over the years the church has held some significant occasions, particularly the marriage of Edmund Nelson and Catherine Suckling in 1749. Another major event was the great fire that destroyed most of the church roof and internal timber in 1586.

See the Journal in the coming weeks for more information on the festival.

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