The removal of pews from a village church has sparked an almighty row which has left locals enraged.  

Religious leaders at All Saints in Briston, near Holt, have infuriated villagers by removing six pews – with some fearing religion was being taken out of the church.

But Revd Trudie Morris has defended the move, saying something has to be done or "there won't be a church in the future".

Lifelong Briston local Tracey Kidd said: “They are trying to turn our church into a village hall”.  

And fellow churchgoer Jenny Wright said locals were “disgusted” by the removal of the pews and “absolutely appalled by the proposed plans”, which were outlined at a meeting at the church earlier this month. 

Eastern Daily Press: Briston All Saints church, in the village of Briston, near HoltBriston All Saints church, in the village of Briston, near Holt (Image: Graham Corney)

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Revd Morris said the pews had only been taken away temporarily so options for repairing and improving the building could be explored.  

She said the pews would be stored in the vicarage for no longer than two years while plans for the church's future were made.

Revd Morris said: “We’re looking at ways to free up space and make the building more accessible.

“We want to ensure the building has modern-day facilities for the people who need them.  

“At the moment there is no money to do any of this work. It’s a serious financial issue. 

“If we don’t act now there won’t be a church in the future.”  

It comes as the church hopes to secure a grant worth more than £500,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for works including roof repairs and the installation of toilets, a kitchen and a meeting room.  

Objectors are in favour of the roof repairs and the addition of toilets - a luxury the church doesn’t currently have - but deem the other amenities unnecessary at a place of worship.  

They say the church’s intention is to host more events, which is needed for a successful heritage fund grant. 

Eastern Daily Press: Revd Dr Trudie MorrisRevd Dr Trudie Morris (Image: Supplied)

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker, who attended the meeting, said the concerns of the community need to be listened to.  

Mr Baker said: “It is essential that the parochial church council takes stock and reflects on the public meeting.

“It was absolutely clear from the majority of people that spoke are concerned by the scale of the plans and proposals. 

“There needs to be proper costings presented, broken down on what it will take to as a minimum repair the roof, implement proper heating, and carry out remedial repairs to for instance the masonry.” 

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Eastern Daily Press: North Norfolk MP Duncan BakerNorth Norfolk MP Duncan Baker (Image: Supplied)

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Norwich - the Church of England across Norfolk and Waveney – said: “Briston Parochial Church Council has been considering plans to ensure the long-term future of the 13th Century parish church for many years.   

“Recently, the parish priest presented some proposals at an open meeting to interested local residents, where the community had the opportunity to give their views.  

“There are no fixed plans, and the many constructive comments will assist the parochial church council in their thinking.  

“The meeting was encouraging in that it displayed the interest and affection that the village has for All Saints’ Church.  

“Securing the future of the church building will depend on the support of the local community, including in raising the funds necessary for the upkeep of this historic building.” 

Unusually, All Saints has no church tower - its former round tower collapsed in 1795 and was never rebuilt.