Photo Gallery: King’s Lynn’s St Margaret’s Church is made a Minster
Service led by Bishop of Norwich marks new chapter for 900-year-old church.
'At your request', wrote Herbert de Losinga, first Bishop of Norwich, to the men of Lynn in 1101, 'I have begun to build a church at Lynn' – and so St Margaret's entered Norfolk's history, standing in the Saturday Market Place at the heart of the oldest part of the town.
And on Sunday night the traditional sound of carol singers echoed around St Margaret's to mark a new chapter in the history of the 900-year-old landmark as it officially became a Minster church at a special service led by the current Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James.
Hundreds of people, parishioners and civic dignitaries, braved the winter weather to witness the church begin a new era as it received the title of King's Lynn Minster.
The civic carol service came after West Norfolk mayor Colin Sampson and Bishop Graham signed a historic declaration of agreement in the Mayor's Parlour at the Town Hall at 6pm.
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The Rev Canon Christopher Ivory, Vicar of St Margaret's, said: 'St Margaret's has served the town of King's Lynn and the wider area for more than nine centuries.
'We still seek to be a spiritual home for all the community of West Norfolk where we can gather to celebrate the joys and mark the sorrows of the town and the borough.
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'As well as the regular congregation, a large number of people visit the building. Sometimes they come for services; often they come to admire the architecture, or the beautiful and historic furnishings, or the long history that it represents.
'But what they find is a place of peace, somewhere to stop and think awhile, to be close to God maybe sitting in a seat in which people have sat for the same reason for hundreds of years.
'St Margaret's isn't any more important than other church buildings, but we are both humbled and honoured that the Bishop of Norwich has decided to give us a new title that reflects our commitment to serve the community beyond the immediate parish boundaries and invites the wider community to see it as a place for them.
'We hope also that having a Minster will be another signal to people well beyond our area that King's Lynn is a beautiful historic town that is well worth visiting.'
West Norfolk mayor Colin Sampson added: 'I was absolutely delighted when I was told that the Bishop of Norwich wanted to re-designate St Margaret's Church as a Minster.
'The position that the building holds within the spiritual and civic life of not just the town but also the borough indicates that the building is of great significance.
'As has been said elsewhere, the splendour of St Margaret's surpasses that of some cathedrals and after all, we do have our own Suffragan bishop. I have been looking forward with excitement and pride to this great day when this building gets the title that it deserves.'
The new honorary title marks the building's historical and architectural significance and elevates it to one of 16 to receive the honour in the last six years. It also comes after St Nicholas' Church in Great Yarmouth was declared a Minster earlier this month.
The Bishop of Norwich said: 'Minster churches possess great historical and architectural significance as well as a contemporary mission and ministry, stretching beyond immediate parish boundaries. This is true for St Margaret's, King's Lynn which was originally founded by the first Bishop of Norwich and a link remains with Norwich Cathedral since the Dean and Chapter are patrons.
'The scale of this church matches some cathedrals elsewhere and many civic and community occasions take place here.
'This church is also a significant gathering point for a much wider area than their geographical parishes and has a growing and developing ministry with much appeal to tourists and pilgrims.'