Broadland church celebrates restoration with family services

A thacter on the roof of St. Peter's Church, Brunstead. Picture: Michael Pollitt

A thacter on the roof of St. Peter's Church, Brunstead. Picture: Michael Pollitt - Credit: Michael Pollitt

Two special family services will be held later this summer at a Broadland medieval church following essential restoration work on the thatched roof.

St. Peter's Church, Brunstead. Picture: Michael Pollitt

St. Peter's Church, Brunstead. Picture: Michael Pollitt - Credit: Mary Beck

Thatchers have re-ridged St Peter's Church, Brunstead, near Stalham, at a cost of about £12,000 and extended the roof's life for another generation.

Members of the Beck family, who have cared for the church for almost a century, will gather for a wedding on September 25 and later dedicate the memorial headstone to a leading Norfolk farmer.

In the early 1990s when the roof was open to the sky and ducks nested in the thatched roof of the chancel, the late Roger Beck, of Brunstead Hall, led efforts to save the church.

At his funeral last October, the former president of Stalham Farmers' Club had asked for donations to fund the roof work. Thanks to the Norfolk Churches Trust's £10,000 grant and £1,000 from the Norwich diocese, the restoration has been carried out.

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A new ridge needed 300 bunches of Norfolk sedge, all grown at nearby How Hill, and Stephen Aldred, of East Ruston, and his son, Ben, spent almost a month, on the task.

'I could follow our progress on the ridge because I could see it from my house in East Ruston,' he added.

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Mr Beck's son, Alan, said that it will be a very special family occasion when his younger sister, Sheila, gets married in September – and on her 60th birthday. And it is planned to erect the memorial to their father, Roger, who died aged 88, and mother Jeanne.

Even more remarkably, when repairs to the nearby hall were being carried out, a large flagstone – the threshold to the original front door - was found. Monumental masons from North Walsham will carve the names of his parents in the stone that was set in their front door.

Mr Beck's grandfather, Cecil Norman, moved to Brunstead to farm in 1919 and the family have been custodians of the church in the tiny parish ever since.

Mr Aldred returned to the family's thatching business in 1975 after studying at the former Norfolk College of Agriculture (now Easton & Otley College) alongside Mr Beck. He and his brother, Michael, re-thatched the church in 1994.

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