Church home to circus group declared 'at risk' on register as work starts

The Lost In Translation Circus Company in their new home, St Michael of Coslany. Massimiliano Rosset

The Lost in Translation circus group at their St Michael Coslany church home in Norwich. The building has been added to Historic England's at risk register. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

A deserted village tower and church housing a wedding venue have been saved from disrepair - but a city church home to a circus group has been declared 'at risk' and is now undergoing work.

Historic England has published its annual Heritage At Risk Register for 2021, a yearly health-check of historic sites and those most at risk of being lost as a result of neglect, delay or development.

Over the last year, 13 historic buildings and sites in the east of England have been removed from the register, many thanks to the hard work of local communities.

But 26 in the east of England have been added because of concerns about their condition.

In Norfolk, the Grade I listed Church of St John de Sepulchre, on Ber Street in Norwich, has been repaired and saved, as have the ruins of All Saints Church at the Godwick deserted medieval village.

The deconsecrated church on Ber Street has been decorated with up-cycled vintage furniture. PICTURE:

The Flint Room at the Church of St John de Sepulchre in Norwich. - Credit: Archant

The Norwich church is mentioned in the Domesday book, and much of the building seen today is 15th and 16th century.

It was boosted by grant funding worth more than £200,000 from Historic England, and the building, which is in the care of Norwich Historic Churches Trust, it is now home to The Flint Rooms, a wedding and ceremonies venue.

Owner James Garner at the tower from the ruins of All Saints Church at the new visitor trail around

Owner James Garner. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

Most Read

All Saints Church at Godwick, one of the best preserved of the deserved medieval villages in Norfolk, has existed since at least 1100, but its current tower was built in the 15th or 16th century before falling into disrepair when the village population declined in the 16th century.

It has decayed badly in recent years, with the west side cracking. With it at high risk of collapse, Historic England supported a repair scheme completed last summer, which has taken it off the register.

It worked alongside Godwick Hall, whose owner, James Garner, said the site was incredibly important for the local landscape.

“Godwick All Saints tower is a really significant feature in the local landscape and can be seen from the roads when driving past," he said.

"Many local people and tourists enjoy our historical trail around the site of the Lost Village of Godwick where it is located.

The lost village of Godwick. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The lost village of Godwick. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

“It was important for the local community that we took action to save the tower from falling down, so alongside Historic England and the Lottery Heritage Fund, we put the funding in place to make sure it was consolidated and made safe for future generations. 

“It is also extremely valuable to us as a stunning and striking backdrop to many weddings at Godwick with most couples wanting to visit the ruins for some romantic photos around this incredible monument to our past." 

But the Grade I listed Church of St Michael Coslany on Norwich's Oak Street, which is now home to the Lost in Translation circus group, has been added to the register.

The building, which is owned by the Norwich Historic Churches Trust, closed as a place of worship in 1971 and it is now the Oak Circus Centre.

The church chancel roof, probably dating to around 1500 with later additions, is in poor condition. Part of the ceiling became detached and fell down in early 2021.

Historic England has offered the Norwich Historic Churches Trust a grant for environmental investigations and to assist the trust with building repairs. St Michael Coslany has also benefited from a recently announced Culture Recovery Fund grant award.

St Michaels Coslany, Oak Street Norwich that has had a planning apllication to be used as a circus s

St Michaels Coslany, Oak Street Norwich that has had a planning apllication to be used as a circus school. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

Without renovation, Historic England said, the church would almost certainly have to close.

Mark Wilson, surveyor of the fabric at the churches trust, which is funding the repair, said work had started on November 1 and was due to be completed next March.

He said the project would involve "urgent repairs" to the chancel roof of the church, and would safeguard the building to ensure its use for hundreds of years to come.

It would include renewing the lead flashings, relaying the chancel roof and carrying out internal redecoration and treatment to the timbers within the roof.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter