Meeting over future of ‘much-loved building and local landmark’
PUBLISHED: 08:38 06 March 2019 | UPDATED: 10:16 06 March 2019
A parish is searching for an organisation to take over its medieval church after an “overwhelming” vote to make it redundant.
The Parish of Redenhall with Harleston and Wortwell has chosen to request to stop using St Mary’s in Redenhall, leaving it with just one church, St John’s in Harleston.
A statement from the parish said the Parochial Church Council (PCC) and the Friends of St Mary’s realised that they are unable to provide the money needed to maintain and repair the “beautiful historic building”.
On Wednesday, March 20 at 7pm a public meeting will be held in St Mary’s to explore the building’s future.
The statement said: “This decision was passed by an overwhelming majority, but with great reluctance.
“We are hoping that in the process that follows we will be able to find an organisation to take on the care of this much-loved building and local landmark, to ensure its future for many years to come.
“We are also hoping that we will be able to make arrangements with any future custodian to keep the building available for use by the community, including for funerals and weddings, bell-ringing and the Christmas Carols by Candlelight service.”
St Mary’s is a Grade I-listed, Gothic-style building which originated in the 14th century, but is said to have been a site of worship for around 1,000 years.
It is part of The Benefice of Redenhall with Scole, a group of seven Church of England churches: Billingford, Brockdish, Harleston, Needham, Redenhall, Scole, Thorpe Abbotts, and Wortwell.
Parish reverend Nigel Tufnell said: “No final decisions have been made. The meeting is for local people to have a say first.”
Similarly on Sunday, March 3, Long Stratton Methodist Church held its last ever service in Forncett St Peter.
The brick building, on Manor Road, will remain open for the various community groups that use it.
Dwindling congregations and resources are a major cause of many church closures across the county, especially in rural areas.
One organisation working to ensure the protection of the county’s many ancient churches is the Norfolk Churches Trust, which gives grants and advice to all Christian denominations.