Church ruins project at Hopton to be celebrated with official opening ceremony

Hopton's ruined church as viewed from the tower.

Hopton's ruined church as viewed from the tower. - Credit: Archant

It is a structure that has been part of community life in a east coast village since Medieval times.

The ruins of the church at Hopton, near Great Yarmouth, have been subject of a major conservation project so it can be opened up to the public.

And on Sunday that hard work at St Margaret's Church will be celebrated at an official opening ceremony, which will see the Rt Revd Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, unveil an information board to mark the occasion.

It marks the culmination of a two year project to conserve and consolidate the grade II* listed structure as a safe and maintained attractive ruin.

St Margaret's Church, in Coast Road, - also known as Hopton Ruined Church - burned down in 1865 and the ruins were a dangerous structure on the English Heritage buildings at risk register.

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It is thought the original church was built between 1189 and 1250 and the fire saw a new church built.

In 2008 Hopton Parish

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Council agreed to buy the ruins for a £1 in 2008 from the Church of England.

The resulting stabilisation project involved the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, the Pilgrim Trust, Hopton Parish Council, Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust, and Great Yarmouth Borough Council.

Looking forward to Sunday's ceremony Hopton Parish Council chairman Colin Sykes said the ruins and an associated volunteer maintained garden were a focal point for the village.

He said' 'This is a fantastic achievement.

'So many groups have worked together to enable the stabilisation to be completed and we now have a safe ruin, which can once again be opened for residents in Hopton and the wider community to enjoy.

'The surrounding Millennium Gardens are a peaceful setting, with plenty of benches for people to sit and reflect on the ruin.

'The gardens have been tended by the Friends of Old St Margaret's, with flowers now in bloom it's looking very welcoming.

'We are looking forward to the ceremony and hope to see many residents joining us for this wonderful celebration.'

The official ceremony starts at 1pm and will also see Darren Barker, conservation officer from the preservation trust, and Mr Sykes makes speeches.

There has been a church on the site at Coast Road, Hopton, since 1087.

According to the parish council it is believed the now ruined St Margaret's Church was built between 1189 and 1250.

The Norfolk Records Office holds baptism, burial and marriage records from 1673.

The original church was all but destroyed after a fire broke out in January 1865 when the stove became overheated.

A new church was built on Lowestoft Road.

The old churchyard was officially closed in 1966.

In September 2013 the parish council and Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust were given the green light by the Heritage Lottery Fund to start the two year £140,000 restoration project.

In June 2105 a second rare 11th century stone head was discovered. It is thought they were from the original church building and were re-used when it was remodelled and the tower added in the 13th or 14th centuries.

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