A fitting tribute to Sir Thomas! Bishop blesses 21st century changes at Erpingham Church

Bishop of Norwich Rt Rev Graham James planting a tree to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle o

Bishop of Norwich Rt Rev Graham James planting a tree to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt at Erpingham Church. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

When medieval knight Sir Thomas Erpingham paid for the construction of part of the church in the north Norfolk village that bears his name he left a legacy that lasts to this day.

Inspired by his example, worshippers have celebrated putting their own 21st century stamp on Erpingham Church near Aylsham.

The Bishop of Norwich the Rt Rev Graham James lead a service of blessing on Sunday to mark the renovation and improvements to the historic gem.

Following the service Bishop Graham planted two oaks saplings outside the church to commemorate the Battle of Agincourt in which Sir Thomas helped lead Henry V's forces to victory against the French in 1415.

The saplings will form part of a living memorial of 600 trees planted in the village to mark the 600th anniversary of the battle.

A small kitchen and toilet has been installed in the church along with a new wooden and glass porch to make it more welcoming to visitors.

It followed the laying of new drainage pipes and repair of crumbling plaster at the Grade One listed building.

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The community rallied round to raise funds and work on the project reducing costs by up to £90,000.

The Norwich based Town Close Estate Charity awarded £50,000 for the work.

Bishop Graham said: 'It is wonderful what has been done and shows what can be achieved to create the sort of facilities that people want nowadays.

'Without getting rid of the ancient medieval doors it has been possible to open up this wonderful building making it even more visible.

'It is a great achievement, done so beautifully and a fitting celebration of the legacy of Sir Thomas Erpingham.'

It is hoped to develop educational projects to promote understanding of the Battle of Agincourt and the 100 Years War and the part played in it by Sir Thomas Erpingham, who built the church's south aisle and part of the tower.

Part of the visits and lectures will focus on the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

Parish priest Canon Paul Thomas said: 'This is a really good example of what the community can achieve it has been a marvellous restoration. It is such a wonderful church we have here and the visit from the bishop really lifted our spirits.'