Prayers were definitely the order of the day when a rural north Norfolk church with a congregation of just seven, found itself facing a £164,620 repair bill.

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This Sunday, October 7, regular worshippers at St Andrew’s Church, Metton, are hoping well-wishers will join them to fill the pews for a special service celebrating the successful end of major restoration work which began about four years ago.

The last five-yearly inspection of Grade 2-star St Andrew’s, which dates from the 14th century, revealed that the chancel and tower roofs were both leaking, collapsing and unsafe.

“I was alarmed when I touched the chancel ceiling and it wobbled,” recalled architect Nicholas Warns, who specialises in historic building conservation and repair. The chancel had to be closed, services moved into the body of the church, and fund-raising began in earnest.

But, with just 21 homes in the tiny village, near Cromer, the prospect of raising the necessary sum in the parish was a “non-starter”, according to church warden Eunice Glass. “We made an awful lot of cakes though,” she added.

Supporters not only got out their mixing bowls, organising village fetes and selling Christmas goods at seasonal events, but also researched and applied for numerous grants.

They struck lucky with English Heritage/Heritage Lottery Fund which gave the project £125,000. Other notable grants were given by The Norfolk Churches Trust, National Churches Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, Spurrell Charitable Trust and the Manifold Trust.

Friends in other parishes making up the Roughton Benefice also dug deep for the cause. “It’s been an absolute miracle,” said Mrs Glass.

The restoration was carried out by Geoff Atthowe and his Norwich-based building firm whose work included installing new timbers, recovering the roofs, and thickening and rebuilding the tower crenulations.

During the chancel work, glimpses of Victorian decorative painting, under the whitewashed walls, came to light. They included crosses in many colours, Biblical texts and fleur-de-lys designs.

Among those likely to drop by to admire the restored church are the many walkers along the Weavers’ Way footpath which passes through Metton.

And everyone is invited to Sunday’s joint celebration and harvest service, led by the Bishop of Lynn, Rt Rev Jonathan Meyrick, at 6.30pm. North Norfolk-based singing group Vocality will also perform.

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