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Permission granted to remove historic bells from fire damaged church

PUBLISHED: 12:21 08 October 2019 | UPDATED: 13:11 08 October 2019

Fire destroys most of St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham.    Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019

Fire destroys most of St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

Permission has been granted to remove three bronze bells that have been left hanging following a severe church fire.

Fire destroys most of St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham.    Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019Fire destroys most of St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham, near Downham Market, was gutted by fire in September, which left the roof and the interior of the building destroyed.

Fire tore through the medieval church, which saw more than 50 firefighters battle the blaze.

A public meeting held on Saturday, September 14 by St Mary's Church wardens discussed possible plans to rebuild the church as a more modern building and flexible community space.

Geoffrey Hunter, church building expert from the Diocese of Ely, said: "There is a general acceptance and desire to use it for more then a church on a Sunday, I think the general consensus is for it to be used more widely by the community.

Fire destroys most of St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham.    Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019Fire destroys most of St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

"The parish council held a discussion on what to do, so there is a loose proposal."

The church building expert said investigations into the cause of the fire are still ongoing and is unsure if its cause will ever be known.

Mr Hunter said: "At the moment it's too early to say.

"I don't know if we will find out, it is amazing what modern technology can do. But at the moment we're waiting for the investigations."

Fire destroys most of St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham.    Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019Fire destroys most of St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

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Fire destroys most of St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham.    Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019Fire destroys most of St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

The Diocese of Ely, West Norfolk council, Historic England and the people of Wimbotsham are in discussions over the future of the building.

Permission has been granted to remove three bells that were left suspended in the church tower.

The bells, which date back to the 14th and 15th century, once removed will be kept in storage.

Mr Hunter said: "The three of them have to be removed at the same time.

"The worry is that they might fall, but what might make them fall out of the tower is when they get removed.

"They will have to be done at the same time, removing one could cause the other two to fall."

The total weight of the bronze bells is thought to be around 800kgs, with the largest weighing 350kgs.

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