Village raises thousands to save Wangford’s ancient church

Work to repair an historic north Suffolk church is underway after supporters managed to raise more than �248,000.

St Peter and St Paul parish church in Wangford, near Southwold, is in dire need of restoration.

The grade I listed building, with a history dating back to 1160, has been badly damaged by weather in recent years.

Rain which cannot run off the roof has leaked inside and been soaked up by the 100-year-old mortar walls. As a result floor boards are rotten and irreplaceable monuments are being badly water damaged.

But now, enough money has been raised to start repairs on the ancient roof.

By selling plants at car boot sales, holding raffles, hosting orchestral concerts and applying for grants, villagers and church supporters have managed to put more than �284,734 in the bank.

The money will pay for the first phase of restoration work, which is now underway, but fund-raisers are not resting on their laurels yet.

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'We have raised over �248,734 so far but we have a long way to go to get all the money we need,' said a church spokesman.

'To lose our church the very heart of the village would be a disaster, we would hate to see it end up like St Mary's at Thetford.'

The church history stretches back 800 years. A priory was founded on the site by Doudo Asini of the Thetford priory. By 1537, monks had left and the house was leased as a farm.

While the remaining parts of the old priory were demolished by the Victorians in the late 19th century, the church was restored.

St Peter's potted history will continue on June 4 when soloists from London's Royal Opera House Orchestra perform a fund-raising recital.

Wangford resident George Ives, principal cellist at the Covent Garden opera house, has organised the concert featuring violinist Vasko Vassilev.

Mr Vassilev, the youngest ever concert master of the Royal Opera House Orchestra, will perform pieces by Rossini and Mozart alongside music with a Spanish flavour.

• The concert has sold out. However, depending upon the progress of building works inside the church, more tickets may be released a week before. For more information call 01502 578007.

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