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'It's like a bereavement for many people' - Rector speaks of devastation after church fire

PUBLISHED: 15:40 11 September 2019 | UPDATED: 15:53 11 September 2019

Fire has gutted the church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market  Picture: Chris Bishop

Fire has gutted the church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market Picture: Chris Bishop

Archant

The rector of a church left severely damaged by fire has spoken of his community's loss.

Fire has gutted the church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market  Picture: Chris BishopFire has gutted the church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market Picture: Chris Bishop

St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham, near Downham Market, was gutted by fire a week ago.

Flames tore through the medieval church, destroying its interior and roof.

The Rev Dr David Karoon, who has been vicar since January, said: "It is a very sad time for us in the village, that building holds so many memories for so many of us. It has held weddings, baptisms and funerals. It is such a great loss for the community.

Rev Karoon said: "I have found a great deal of support in the community and wider community, people have been coming to the church to express their sadness."

Firefighters at the scene of the blaze which has gutted the historic church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market  Picture: Chris BishopFirefighters at the scene of the blaze which has gutted the historic church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market Picture: Chris Bishop

Site investigations are still ongoing and the bronze bells that are still hanging will have to be removed before a full inspection can take place.

MORE: Villagers debate future of church gutted by fire.

Rev Karoon said: "We have been told it will take a good few weeks before the inspections are carried out and are waiting to consult with the community in Wimbotsham too see what to do next, it will take weeks and possibly months before something is decided.

"We are waiting on a response from the structural engineer on what to do."

Fire has gutted the church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market  Picture: Chris BishopFire has gutted the church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market Picture: Chris Bishop

More than 50 firefighters tackled the blaze, saving the vestry and important church documents that were kept in a safe.

Priceless carvings and a 15th Century altar table were consumed by the flames.

Mr Karoon added: "People are very very sad, it's like a bereavement for many people. It's where they've grown up, attended church or had their weddings or baptisms in.

"It's been a great shock, you don't expect it and nothing prepares you for something like this.

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

"In the meantime we cannot hold a service in the building and so it will be held at the Stow Bardolph church."

A community meeting will be held on Saturday, September 14 at Wimbotsham Village Hall (3pm) to discuss the future of the church.

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