Photo gallery: Blythburgh church is riding high after repair work

It looms over the north Suffolk countryside and is known as 'the cathedral of the marshes'.

And over the course of seven centuries it has been attacked by Cromwellian soldiers, struck by lightning, fallen into ruin and is even rumoured to have been savaged by the ghostly dog Black Shuck.

But there was one enemy that Holy Trinity Church at Blythburgh, near Southwold, has been mauled by the most over the centuries – rain and the elements.

But after a �211,000 appeal, the towering church is no longer being plagued by rainwater dripping through its roof and splashing on to the floor of the spacious 15th century building.

Work has finished on re-roofing the south aisle of the church, repointing its ancient walls and repairing crumbling masonry.

The appeal was launched in the autumn of 2007 after a quinquennial inspection revealed the dire nature of its roof and fabric.

Villagers and church lovers flocked to the cause and sent in 2,400 individual donations totalling �37,000, with one generous donor placing �5,000 in a gift aid envelope.

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The church also secured grants from various heritage and church bodies including the Friends of Holy Trinity, the Blythburgh Society and the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust.

Now the repair work, by Reade of Aldeburgh, is completed a service of thanksgiving will be held in the church on Sunday with the Bishop of Dunwich from 6pm

For churchwarden Jenny Allen, the service will be a celebration of the community's support and Holy Trinity's continuing appeal to visitors, with 15,000 people visiting it every year.

Mrs Allen said: 'Churches like this were built for the glory of God rather than the size of congregation.

'In 2007 there was water leaking through the roof – it could easily have hit one of the congregation.

'I think we were all amazed by the level of support we received for the appeal over four years.

'I think that what people like about this church is that is very quiet and tranquil and full of history.'

Holy Trinity is well known for three distinctive features, its 14th century tower; angel-themed ceiling; and poppy head pew ends based on the seven deadly sins and the seasons.

The church was also the target of Cromwellian 'vandals' when local Puritan William Dowsing was commissioned to remove 20 'superstitious pictures', two crosses and more than 200 cherubim.

The building was also hit by lightning in 1577, reportedly killing two people, and fell into disrepair in the 18th century.

One of its doors was also the apparent target of a vicious attack by the ghost dog Black Shuck.

The Rev Simon Pitcher, rector of Holy Trinity, has been at the church for a year and said he was delighted to see the fruits of the appeal.

He said: 'I think this church is important in terms of its architecture and history, in fact I would say it is one of the most important buildings of its kind in Europe.

'It is also a valuable church for the people of Blythburgh.

'I want to thank everyone who supported the appeal – they have achieved a great deal.'

Holy Trinity is now launching a �40,000 appeal to replace two stained glass panels to help create a new stained glass window mural.

To make a donation send a cheque payable to Blythburgh PCC to Jenny Allen, Wolsey House, Chapel Road, Blythburgh IP19 9LW.

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