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Friends sought to help maintain historic Norwich churches

17:01 10 January 2014

Penny Rennie and Simon Macfarlane at St Mary and St Margaret

Penny Rennie and Simon Macfarlane at St Mary and St Margaret's church in Sprowston.

Archant © 2014

Church enthusiasts are being sought to help raise money towards the long term maintenance and preservation of two historic churches in the Sprowston area.

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Churchwardens are looking to recruit volunteers to join two new friends groups, one for St Mary’s and St Margaret’s and the other for St Cuthbert’s in Sprowston, with the aim in part to raise funds for the future upkeep of the buildings.

Penny Rennie, a warden with Sprowston with Beeston St Andrew’s, said although no immediate repairs were needed, the buildings would soon need work through wear and tear.

The priority is St Mary’s and St Margaret’s, which is 800-years-old, while St Cuthbert’s is 125-years-old.

Mrs Rennie said the aim was to try and recruit 20 people, though they did not have to be churchwardens and could just be people within the community who have an interest in the church.

She added future developments could include a community room and potentially a meeting room or play area.

She said: “It does not need a lot of repairs at the moment, but looking towards the future, like all old buildings, they need maintaining and a lot of money’s needed to keep it in a good state of repair.”

The Rev Canon Simon Stokes, vicar of Sprowston, said the parish was looking to set up two separate friends groups because there was unlikely to be an overlap between those who had an interest in looking after St Mary’s and those who wanted to help St Cuthbert’s.

The St Mary’s and St Margaret’s Church has a long history dating back to the time of Herbert De Losinga, the first Norman Bishop of Norwich, who founded a leper hospital on land owned by Sprowston church.

Mr Stokes added: “The church has always had a community involvement so we wanted to encourage the community to take an interest in it because it is their building.”

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