TV presenter sings praises of ‘extraordinary’ Norfolk Church

Brian Chase receives his recognition award from Loyd Grossman inside St Nicholas Chapel. Picture: Ia

Brian Chase receives his recognition award from Loyd Grossman inside St Nicholas Chapel. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

One of Norfolk's finest churches – St Nicholas Chapel at King's Lynn – was yesterday praised as a 'wonderful lesson in history.'

Loyd Grossman, chairman of the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) and TV presenter, visited St Nicholas to present the Friends of St Nicholas Chapel with a certificate to honour its trustees as part of a tour of East Anglia.

Thanking them for their work in securing a £2.3m grant for renovations, Mr Grossman, known for such television shows as Masterchef and Food Glorious Food, said: 'St Nicholas is one of the most extraordinary churches in England. The size of it and the history of it show how hugely important King's Lynn was in the Middle Ages. It's a special place. There are so many stories of people and memories inside. It's a wonderful lesson in history.

'We want to make it a better space for bringing people together and this project will secure the future of the church. The way to maintain buildings like this is to keep using them and we want to make it a better experience for people to come here.'

Originally built late on in the 12th century, the church was rebuilt a number of times and shows architecture from a number of periods.

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The oak timber roof is considered one of the church's most spectacular features and there are a number of angels carved into its beams.

After the congregation diminished, the church was declared redundant in 1989 and came under the care of the CCT in 1992. The church holds a number of events throughout the year, including performances by the King's Lynn Festival Chorus and the College of West Anglia's graduation service, and the Friends, along with the CCT, are hoping to make the building more hospitable for such events.

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The church was recently awarded a multi-million pound grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help towards renovation work and plans include adding toilets, a kitchenette and heating as well as shoring up parts of the roof and installing solar panels.

Brian Chase, chairman of the Friends of St Nicholas Chapel, said: 'To get the green light to go ahead with the renovation is great. It's important for future generations to be able to come here as it's such an inspiring place.'

Mr Grossman added: 'People forget that to have old buildings like this we have to look after them. There's no state funding. The church can't look after them and we need people like Brian who have such energy and enthusiasm for the church.'

Later, Mr Grossman and other members of the Churches Conservation Trust travelled to Bungay to officially open new facilities at St Mary's Church. He also presented a certificate to acknowledge the work done at the historic church by The Friends of St Mary's.

Work carried out includes a new meeting room, heating, toilet and kitchen facilities, thanks to a major bequest from philanthropist Kathleen Bowerbank, daughter of a director of bookprinter Clays, and other donations. Mr Grossman and the Trust are visiting a number of churches across East Anglia on a two-day visit including St Andrew's in Walpole, St Laurence's in Norwich, St Mary the Virgin in Stonham Parva, St George's in Shimpling, All Saints in West Harling, St Andrew's in Sapiston and St Peter's in Sudbury.

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