Special open day to turn “hidden gem” into community asset in Norwich

Churches Conservation Trust volunteers at the church of St John, Maddermarket, Pottergate, Norwich.
Photo by Simon Finlay. Churches Conservation Trust volunteers at the church of St John, Maddermarket, Pottergate, Norwich. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Adam Gretton adam.gretton@archant.co.uk
Monday, July 7, 2014
6:30 AM

A medieval church, described as a “hidden gem”, staged a volunteer recruitment drive at the weekend to help come up with new ideas to make it more of a community asset.

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Churches Conservation Trust volunteer Jonathan Seal at the church of St John, Maddermarket, Pottergate, Norwich.
Photo by Simon Finlay.Churches Conservation Trust volunteer Jonathan Seal at the church of St John, Maddermarket, Pottergate, Norwich. Photo by Simon Finlay.

The Church of St John Maddermarket has played an important part in the history of Norwich for more than 700 years and was the burial place for a number of former Lord Mayors and the founder of the neighbouring Maddermarket Theatre.

Officials from the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT), which look after the 15th century building, staged a special open day on Saturday to get more volunteers to come forward.

The small church, just off the city centre, in Pottergate, was used for Anglican worship until 1982 when it was taken on as a Greek Orthodox centre. The listed church has been in the care of the CCT for the last 24 years.

Officials from the CCT, a national charity that protects historic churches at risk, hopes to improve the visitor experience at St John’s by getting more local people involved in running it and researching its history.

The Church of St John, Maddermarket, Pottergate, Norwich.
Photo by Simon Finlay.The Church of St John, Maddermarket, Pottergate, Norwich. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Laura McLean, the trust’s volunteer officer for the south east, said St John’s had around eight dedicated volunteers, who man the site four days a week. However, they hope to increase volunteer numbers to around 25 to open it for longer and encourage the site to be used by different community groups.

“We would like to see the church used more and work in partnership with organisations in the city. It has had strong local connections and that is something we are keen to revitalise. We want this church to be a gateway to the trust countywide,” she said.

The CCT has 28 churches in Norfolk.

It is thought that there was a church in Pottergate from the mid-11th century and the current building was rebuilt and completed in 1452.

Have you got a fascinating story about Norwich’s past? Email adam.gretton@archant.co.uk

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