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Urgent repairs needed to save ‘at risk’ Norwich church from deterioration

PUBLISHED: 10:04 28 December 2018 | UPDATED: 10:19 28 December 2018

St John De Sepulchre in Ber Street, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

St John De Sepulchre in Ber Street, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

Urgent repair work needs to be carried out on one of Norwich’s medieval churches to rescue it from deterioration.

Parts of St John De Sepulchre, on the corner of Ber Street and Finkelgate, date back to the 11th or 12th century and it was mentioned in the Domesday Book.

But time is taking its toll and the church is on Historic England’s list of heritage at risk.

The national body warns “there is serious and ongoing structural movement at the north-western end of the building, with significant movement in the vestry and cracking in the north transeptal chapel”.

The nave, chancel and north porch were rebuilt in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, while the vestry was constructed in 1906.

Historic England say that the south vestry walls are “in a state of advanced collapse”, while the 15th century south chapel is suffering “severe, progressive structural movement and cracking” caused by a nearby tree.

The church became redundant in 1984. It is leased by Norwich City Council to the Norwich Churches Preservation Trust and has most recently been rented out to a company which uses it to store props for weddings.

The Norwich Historic Churches Trust has accepted a heritage at risk repair grant from Historic England and is hoping that City Hall will approve its application for urgently needed repairs to the Grade I listed building.

Documents drawn up by Nicholas Warns Architects to support the application state that: “The proposed intervention proceeds from the need to make the building watertight and stop ongoing deterioration. The work will prevent the loss of elements from the late medieval fabric.”

Work would include: repairs to the vestry; cracks in the south transept fixed; the replacement of the ceiling in the north transept and repairs to roofs, windows, buttresses and walls.

New rainwater drainage would also be created. At the moment, leaks are causing damage within the church.

Two monuments within the church - to former Norwich mayor and sheriff Bernard Church, who died in 1686, and his wife Katherine Quarles, who died in 1670 - have suffered particular damage.

A decision on whether to grant permission for the repairs will be made by Norwich City Council in due course.

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