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Church ruins project at Hopton is celebrated in style at official opening ceremony

PUBLISHED: 14:21 25 April 2017 | UPDATED: 14:21 25 April 2017

The ruins of St Margaret's Church, Hopton-on-Sea. Pictures: MICK HOWES

The ruins of St Margaret's Church, Hopton-on-Sea. Pictures: MICK HOWES

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It was hailed as a “momentous day” for an east coast village.

Dignitaries in attendance at a special ceremony at the ruins of St Margaret's Church, Hopton-on-Sea. Pictures: MICK HOWES Dignitaries in attendance at a special ceremony at the ruins of St Margaret's Church, Hopton-on-Sea. Pictures: MICK HOWES

After years of hard work, a major conservation project was celebrated as applause echoed out around the Hopton Ruined Church.

The St Margaret’s Church site near Great Yarmouth has been part of the community since Medieval times.

The mayor of Great Yarmouth at the ruins of St Margaret's Church, Hopton-on-Sea. Pictures: MICK HOWES The mayor of Great Yarmouth at the ruins of St Margaret's Church, Hopton-on-Sea. Pictures: MICK HOWES

And the present day community gathered at an official ceremony to open the ruins and garden to the public on Sunday as a new information board and bench were unveiled.

There was a celebratory feel as those involved were joined by special guests and representatives from funding organisations.

A display of photographs showcasing the project at the ruins of St Margaret's Church, Hopton-on-Sea. Pictures: MICK HOWES A display of photographs showcasing the project at the ruins of St Margaret's Church, Hopton-on-Sea. Pictures: MICK HOWES

Unveiling the new information board and bench – which features a plaque thanking everyone involved in the project – at the surrounding Millennium Gardens, the Lord Bishop of Norwich, the Rt. Rev Graham James, said: “It is a delight to be here.

In 2008 we did a deal with the parish council, it was a whole £1 to buy this plot – a bargain at the time. “Thanks to Heritage Lottery funding and a lot of local fundraising now we have got something stable and secure. Today is a momentous day – a celebration of the vision and the extraordinary hard work of people in Hopton and everyone else involved in this project.”

Hopton Parish Council chairman Colin Sykes on the newly unveiled bench at the ruins of St Margaret's Church, Hopton-on-Sea. Pictures: MICK HOWES Hopton Parish Council chairman Colin Sykes on the newly unveiled bench at the ruins of St Margaret's Church, Hopton-on-Sea. Pictures: MICK HOWES

With the project led by Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust, Darren Barker, conservation officer from the trust, said: “The project to repair and stabilise the ruin has seen many volunteers giving hundreds of hours, working in all weathers, to save this for future generations. We should all be very proud.”

With the ruin being a focal point for the village, and the peaceful setting of the Millennium Gardens giving people the chance to sit and reflect, chairman of the parish council, Colin Sykes, said: “This is a fantastic achievement – a huge thank you to all involved. It is absolutely the perfect setting for this.”

The Lord Bishop of Norwich, The Rt. Revd. Graham James unveils the new information board at the ruins of st Margaret's Church, Hopton-on-Sea. Pictures: MICK HOWES The Lord Bishop of Norwich, The Rt. Revd. Graham James unveils the new information board at the ruins of st Margaret's Church, Hopton-on-Sea. Pictures: MICK HOWES

St Margaret’s Church, in Coast Road, had burned down in 1865 and the ruins were a dangerous structure on the English Heritage buildings at risk register. In 2008 the parish council agreed to buy the ruins for £1 from the Church of England.

The project also involved the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, the Pilgrim Trust, the parish council, and Great Yarmouth Borough Council.

The Lord Bishop of Norwich, The Rt. Revd. Graham James unveils the new information board at the ruins of st Margaret's Church, Hopton-on-Sea. Pictures: MICK HOWES The Lord Bishop of Norwich, The Rt. Revd. Graham James unveils the new information board at the ruins of st Margaret's Church, Hopton-on-Sea. Pictures: MICK HOWES

The new information board at the ruins of St Margaret's Church, Hopton-on-Sea. Pictures: MICK HOWES The new information board at the ruins of St Margaret's Church, Hopton-on-Sea. Pictures: MICK HOWES

A new bench, featuring a plaque to thank all those involved in the conservation project at the ruins of St Margaret's Church, Hopton-on-Sea. Pictures: MICK HOWES A new bench, featuring a plaque to thank all those involved in the conservation project at the ruins of St Margaret's Church, Hopton-on-Sea. Pictures: MICK HOWES

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