Congregation raises £650,000 to transform Norwich church which was on brink of collapse
© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2009
The remarkable transformation of a Norwich church, which was on the bring of collapse three years ago, will be complete tomorrow, thanks to a congregation who raised an incredible £650,000.
St Stephen’s Church, in Rampant Horse Street, closed in October 2009, a few months after a water leak in nearby Malthouse Lane meant the foundations shifted.
A large crack had appeared in the wall of the church and it had to close for vital repairs to stop the east wall from collapsing.
It was initially only due to close for about six months, but the congregation, who had moved to Chantry Hall, were only able to go back in this May.
The church was remodelled, based on plans which previous vicar and former city councillor Hereward Cooke had been drawing up before his death.
Underfloor heating has been installed and the pews removed, giving the church more flexibility for the church community and other community groups.
And the long-closed cafe, which was always popular with shoppers heading in and out of the nearby Chapelfield Shopping Centre, will once again open its doors tomorrow, completing the years of work.
Rev Madeline Light said: “The congregation has raised £650,000 to complete the work. Everyone has participated from the person who has collected pennies in a bucket to the person who has given tens of thousands of pounds.
“There have been fundraising events and trusts have yielded £66,000. It has been a roller coaster ride having just enough money to commit to each phase.
“The patience of everyone has been tested to the limit but the endless coincidences that have enabled the project to be completed has cheered and encouraged the congregation.”
A thanksgiving service to mark the refurbishment took place on Wednesday night, with The Bishop of Norwich preaching at the opening and all the contractors involved in the transformation present.
Anne Murphy, a member of the congregation, has penned a book about the work called A Church Reborn, which features photographs by David White.