Falling flints spark tower safety alert at North Walsham’s parish church

North Walsham's landmark ruined church tower has been fenced off after falling flints sparked a safety alert.

A 'danger' notice has been fixed to the fencing at St Nicholas' Parish Church, which is in the heart of the town. The adjacent footpath is widely used by people crossing from Market Place to the St Nicholas Court precinct and Vicarage Street.

Canon Derek Earis, vicar of North Walsham, said: 'We had noticed a number of flints that had fallen from the tower over a while, and felt that we must consult the architect, being concerned about safety for the public.

'It's been fenced off while investigations take place. Investigations are on-going. It looks as if there's a problem with pointing high up on the tower which needs attention. We are awaiting instructions from the architect about that.'

The ruin is all that is left of a tower and spire which once rose to 147ft - nearly twice its existing height - and contained a heavy peel of six bells and a clock with chimes.

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It collapsed after an Ascension Day fair in 1724 during which the bells had been rung for many hours. In 1835 a few small falls proved the weakness of the upper stonework and the following year, on February 17, heavy wintry gales brought down the north side of the steeple, causing residents living nearby to think there had been an earthquake. This left the east wall of the tower threatening to collapse onto the church and 50ft was quickly removed as a safety precaution, leaving the tower with the familiar shape we know today.

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