'Arson' blaze destroys part of Norfolk church
By Keith Morris
A fire, believed to have been started by arsonists, ripped through a 197-year-old listed South Norfolk
church last night causing considerable damage.
Over half of the Grade II listed Carleton Rode Baptist Church was damaged with a school room and store room worst affected.
Church pastor, Rev Mark Taylor, who only moved to the church last year, from Wick in Scotland, with his wife Claire and four young children, said: “The school room and store area seem to be burnt beyond use. There was talk last night of demolition. I saw some of the church members with a sense of devastation because their lives have been so closely linked with the church.
“We get 45-50 people on a Sunday morning, but the big success is a youth club for 8-11 year olds. My sadness is that five weeks ago we began the youth club called "The Loft" in the church and 40 of the village children attend this club. The place destroyed by fire is the very place that they meet every Friday.
“I went to the school this morning and it is the talk of the village. Some of the children are in tears. Some of the older girls came running up and said ‘Pastor Mark, we are going to raise some money to keep this going.’ The headmistress of the local school has offered the school as a temporary venue for the youth club.
“Although the church building is burnt, the church family continues. What has happened here has shaken the psyche of the village.”
Firefighters believe the blaze, which began just after 10pm, was started by burglars who set alight to the church after ransacking the building.
A spokeswoman for Norfolk Fire and Rescue said: “The fire was believed to have been started after a burglary. Fire investigators are going back today, along with a crew from Wymondham to check for hot spots.”
Pumps from Wymondham, Attleborough, Long Stratton, East Harling, a water carrier from Hethersett and an aerial ladder platform from Earlham were sent to the fire at the church in Chapel Road.
To hear Rev Mark Taylor talk about the fire, click on video below.
To read more about Rev Mark Taylor and the church on this website, click here.
Pictured above is the fire-damaged Carleton Rode Baptist church. Picture courtesy of EDP24.