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Service held at Breckland medieval church, St Andrew’s Church, Tottington, for only the second time 75 years

PUBLISHED: 09:59 10 April 2017 | UPDATED: 09:59 10 April 2017

St Andrew's Church at Stanford in the Stanta military training area where villages were abandoned during the Second World War. Photo: Michael Rimmer

St Andrew's Church at Stanford in the Stanta military training area where villages were abandoned during the Second World War. Photo: Michael Rimmer

Michael Rimmer

A special service was held at a Breckland medieval church in the heart of the army’s Stanford training area.

For only the second time in 75 years, a service of Evensong was conducted at St Andrew’s Church, Tottington, on Friday, April 7.

In July 1942 an area of about 20,000 acres was taken over the army as a training ground, partly to prepare for D-Day, and about 500 villagers from Stanford, Langford and West Tofts were evicted from their homes - never to return.

St Andrew’s, which dates from the 14th century, was re-roofed in 1997 with steel sheets looking like traditional pantiles.

It is one of four churches, which remain on the training area including the round-towered Stanford, Langford and West Tofts - now maintained by the army.

A 45-strong party was escorted by official guide, Lt Col Tony Powell, and also Ian Lonsdale, chairman of the Norfolk Churches Trust and the secretary, Scilla Latham.

Since the trust was founded in 1976, a total of £5.5m has been awarded in grants.

The trust is staging a Stately Car Boot Sale at Sennowe Park, near Fakenham, on Sunday, April 30.

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