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Medieval churches at risk need £12m worth of repairs, warns trust

PUBLISHED: 22:10 21 November 2019 | UPDATED: 09:10 22 November 2019

Scilla Latham, secretary of Norfolk Churches Trust Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

Scilla Latham, secretary of Norfolk Churches Trust Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

Medieval churches across Norfolk could be lost or seriously damaged if more than £12m is not spent on urgent repairs.

Rev Margaret McPhee, rector of the Horsford benefice which includes St Margaret's Church in Felthorpe. St Margaret's is in need of a major roof repair. Picture: Margaret McPheeRev Margaret McPhee, rector of the Horsford benefice which includes St Margaret's Church in Felthorpe. St Margaret's is in need of a major roof repair. Picture: Margaret McPhee

That is the warning from Peter Sheppard, chairman of the Norfolk Churches Trust, which has placed 52 churches on its so-called anxiety list.

The list features churches in villages and towns, which need immediate action to prevent the "potential loss of priceless heritage", according to the trust.

St Margaret's Church in Felthorpe which is need of major roof repairs. Picture: Rev Margaret McPheeSt Margaret's Church in Felthorpe which is need of major roof repairs. Picture: Rev Margaret McPhee

Mr Sheppard said many of the churches on the anxiety list could be seriously damaged or even lost unless repairs costing £12,670,700 were carried out.

The trust's secretary, Scilla Latham, told the charity's council that the situation was "dire."

St Peter and St Paul's Church in Carbrooke. Picture: Matthew Usher.St Peter and St Paul's Church in Carbrooke. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Norfolk has 659 medieval churches, which is the greatest concentration in the world.

Churches featuring on the list include:

St Peter and St Paul's Church in Carbrooke, near Watton, which needs £200,000 to tackle extensive damp and to repair serious cracks in the tower stairs;

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St Andrew's Church in Deopham, near Wymondham, which needs £413,000 to carry out extensive roof repairs and for major re-pointing of the church fabric;

St Mary's Roman Catholic church in Great Yarmouth which needs £1.18m for a total overhaul of all roofs, extensive masonry repairs and work to the tower roof;

St Margaret's Church in Felthorpe, near Norwich, which needs £300,000 for urgent chancel and vestry roof repairs, as well as urgent work to the tower and also the nave;

All Saints' Church in Little Cressingham, near Swaffham, which needs £203,000 to resolve damp penetration and to repair the roof;

And St Andrew's Church in Little Massingham which needs £102,000 for repairs.

Rev Margaret McPhee, who has been rector of the Horsford benefice for the past four years, described St Margaret's Church in Felthorpe as having a beautiful feeling and being significant.

She holds weekly services at the 14th century church on Bilney Lane, which is one mile out of the village, but added the church wanted to diversify.

An important part of its future vision was improving the roof.

She said: "The roof leaks very badly. We keep patching it up. We need to seriously repair it within the next five years."

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