Two Norfolk churches celebrate their new life
2009: Two historic Norfolk
churches are celebrating after re-opening following successful community efforts to breathe new life into them.
Three years ago, St Andrew's Church was at the centre of the Attlebridge community, even housing the village post office in a room at the foot of the tower. But a decaying roof meant that Church officials were forced to shut the main part of the building on health and safety grounds.
An English Heritage grant of over £100,000 and much hard work over three years, helped repair the roof and porch, rewire the building, put in new light fittings and renew the north aisle floor.
On Sunday April 26 the church reopened its doors for the first service since it was suddenly forced to shut in 2006 and the congregation, which since then had travelled to Alderford to worship, returned in their droves to pack out St Andrew's and witness a re-dedication service by the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James.
Bishop Graham told worshippers that while they should be proud of their achievements in seeing the church renovated, they were an equally important part of its structure as the "living stones" - the people working together to form a spiritual community.
When the West Norfolk church of St Mark’s at Ten Mile Bank began to subside, the vast cost of repair meant a bulldozer looked like the only option for the small congregation.
But on Saturday April 25, the Bishop of Ely paraded to the Fenland parish, where rousing hymns of celebration were sung in the restored Grade II listed building after a magnificent £390,000 was raised to keep the church alive.
Having already lost their post office, pub and railway station, the 250 villagers were determined they would not lose their church too.
Seven years after it was deemed unsafe, St Mark's Church has reopened its doors to the community.
The Bishop of Ely, the Rt Rev Dr Anthony Russell, who led the rededication, praised the hard work and determination of the villagers and said the project proved how important churches were to small communities.
He said: "It is a very considerable achievement. It is symbolic of a lot that is happening at the moment. People take a lot of trouble and care about it. These churches mean a lot to the local communities and they symbolise community life."
Pictured above are the Rev Selwyn Tillett and the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, at St Andrew's, in Attlebridge. Photo by EDP.