Repair work starts on Blofield church tower

Work started yesterday to repair a crumbling church which is described as 'the spiritual heart of the community'.

Investigations into the damage to the tower and south aisle roof started at St Andrew and St Peter Church in Blofield yesterday.

Last month, English Heritage announced it was granting millions of pounds from the Heritage Lottery Fund to 28 churches in the east of England to help support emergency repairs and St Andrew and St Peter was awarded �99,000.

Church warden Sue Shillam said: 'Every five years the church has to have an architectural review and ours has shown us that flints are falling down. There is also a large crack running along the staircase leading to the bell ringing chamber. We have one of the finest collections of bells outside of Norwich.'

The church, which has a 70-strong congregation, is a Grade I listed building.

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Architect Ruth Brennan, who inspected the church, said: 'I saw quite a lot of loose flints and holes.

'If we don't repair it now, the decay will accelerate and it will get worse very quickly.'

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After checking the building, Mrs Brennan will send a report to English Heritage for approval before the building work can begin. It is estimated that it will start this autumn.

The Rev Paul Cubitt, pictured above with Mrs Brennan, said: 'The repair project is essential to maintain the building that the congregation and the village love. It means so much to them. It's the spiritual heart of the village. If the building wasn't fixed for another 100 years, it would be a great loss to the community.'

Robin Llewellyn, head of HLF East of England, said: 'Historic places of worship are an irreplaceable part of our heritage that continue to play a vital role within local communities today. In the last 10 years, the Heritage Lottery Fund has invested �155m in these wonderful buildings.' photo: james bass

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