Beachamwell church fire 'accidental', investigation concludes

Scenes at St Mary's Church in Beachamwell as fire crews tackled the fire.

Scenes at St Mary's Church in Beachamwell as fire crews tackled the fire. - Credit: Sarah Hussain

The cause of a large fire which damaged an ancient Norfolk village church was "accidental", an investigation has concluded.

St Mary the Virgin Church in Beachamwell, near Swaffham, was badly damaged following a blaze that tore through the building on Wednesday, February 2.

Ten fire engines and around 60 fire staff were called to the incident after sparks from welding work ignited the thatched roof of the church.

Work had been taking place to replace lead that was stolen from the south aisle in 2019.

The interior of the Grade I listed church was gutted in the blaze.

An investigation into the cause was launched by the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service.

St Marys Church, in Beachemwell, Norfolk, the day after fire ripped through the thatched roof and gu

St Marys Church, in Beachamwell, Norfolk, the day after fire ripped through the thatched roof and gutted the interior. - Credit: Andrew Higgins/Ecclesiastical Insurance/Thousand Word Media Ltd

The service has now concluded its investigation, and a spokesperson confirmed the cause was "accidental".

Initial surveys have been carried out by structural engineers on access to the building and the stability of the church's round tower that dates back to the early 11th century, and the two large bells it holds.

Ecclesiastical Insurance, which insures the building, has said the church can be restored despite the extensive damage.

St Marys Church, Beachamwell. Aftermath of fire which gutted 11th century church. Pictures:

St Mary's Church, Beachamwell. Aftermath of fire which gutted 11th century church. - Credit: Brittany Woodman/ Archant