Community project shows possibilities for Medieval Norwich church

Origami, weaving and bread-baking are just some of the activities which have gone on offer at a new community project launched at a Norwich church.

A prototype project at St Laurence's Church, in St Benedict's Street, was launched on Saturday in an effort to explore new ways to use the 15th-century church.

The Common Room project temporarily transformed the church into a type of community space in an attempt to entice people to explore the Grade I listed Medieval church.

The project has been developed by Social Spaces and 00:/ (Zero Zero) in collaboration with The Churches Conservation Trust, a national charity which protects historic churches at risk and cares for over 340 buildings around the country.

St Laurence's is one of three churches which the charity looks after in Norwich, alongside the 500-year-old Church of St John Maddermarket and St Augustine's Church, which boasts the only 17th-century brick tower in Norwich.

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Sarah Hollingsworth, from 00:/ strategy and design practitioners, said: 'We had at least 200 come in and have a look at what we were doing and some stayed all day.

'We had lots of different things on offer and people were just getting to know each other and exploring the different activities.

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'There were opportunities for people to engage with us and give feedback and we had lots of people very excited about the possibilities who were telling us about how they would like to be involved.'

The aim of the project, held between 10am and 4pm, was to explore the idea of creating a more permanent local community centre at St Laurence's, where local residents can pop in to take a class, have a chat, read their emails or share a meal with others.

Ms Hollingsworth added: 'People liked the idea of group meals and experimenting with pop-up restaurants, so it was all really positive, a good first step to take.'

Matthew McKeague, regeneration taskforce manager at the Churches Conservation Trust, added: 'The Churches Conservation Trust is always exploring new ways to put beautiful buildings like St Laurence's back at the heart of local communities, and this pilot is an exciting example of how this could be done.'

For more information about the Common Room project, go to

- Are you starting a new community project in Norwich? Contact reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or

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