Work starts this week on restoring and mordernising one of Norfolk’s finest churches
Scaffolding is now in place around St Nicholas’ Chapel, in King’s Lynn.
A new roof is being put on the imposing church, which dates back to Norman times, while its interior is being modernised to create a venue which can be used for concerts and exhibitions.
A sod turning ceremony will take place at the church, on St Ann’s Street, on Friday morning.
Afterwards the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT), which looks after the building, will host a reception to thank those who answered its appeal for donations towards the £2.4m cost of restoring the building, which raised more than £210,000. The remainder was met with a £2.3m lottery grant.
Speakers at the event will include Philip Venning OBE, who is a Heritage Lottery Fund committee member and Sir Jeremy Bagge, whose ancestors are commemorated by several monuments in the chapel.
Adrian Parker, chairman of the Friends of St Nicholas supporters group, said: “At last we shall see exciting changes under way that will encourage more groups to use the chapel all year round, with local management. The next challenge is for us also to raise the money to repair the bells and bring them back into use”.
Work on St. Nicholas - which is the largest chapel in England - is expected to take until next May. It will re-open to the public in late summeer.
Throughout the project a training and learning programme in historic building conservation will allow people to observe craft and construction skills first hand.
Historic building specialists William Anelay, one of the UKs longest established construction companies, has been appointed as main contractor. Tony Townend, managing director of York-based William Anelay said: “We are very pleased to be involved with any Grade I listed building but specifically on this occasion to see St Nicholas’ Chapel have a new and expanded use within a revitalised shell.
“This project offers us the opportunity to help educate and train through learning programmes, local people, who will benefit our specialist area of conservation and restoration of historic buildings.”
Work on the chapel will weatherproof its lead and timber roof, protecting the carved angels which nestle high in its beams.
The project also includes the addition of solar panels to parts of the roof, along with new toilets and kitchens inside.