Beachamwell Church restoration progresses after fire

0

Published:
1:50 p.m. June 25, 2022



Restoration work at a former village church in Norfolk destroyed by a devastating fire is due to start next month.

The first phase of the project, at St Mary the Virgin Church, Beachamwell, will stabilize the remaining structure and clear debris from the site.

The Grade I listed building was badly damaged in the fire in February.

It lost its thatched roof, while the interior was also largely destroyed.

Discussions have since taken place over the future use of St Mary’s after Church Insurance, which insures the building, said the church could be restored, despite extensive damage.


Fire crews tackle a fire at a St Mary’s Church, Beachamwell.
– Credit: Sarah Hussain

Peggy Ray, Chair of Friends of St Mary’s, said: “I understand from the CCP [parochial church council] this first stage of construction work, which involves stabilizing the structure and removing and sifting through debris, will begin in July.

“It is also hoped that the tower and porch can be restored at this stage, so although it has taken some time, it feels like progress is being made.”

She said the village had now been consulted on the plans, with residents surveyed and a meeting held.

She said the “overwhelming response” showed people wanted the building rebuilt for “mixed use”, both for “quiet reflection and church-related events such as weddings, baptisms and funerals and as a community space for music and other events”.

Although it is not yet known how much the restoration will cost or how it will be funded, the Diocese of Ely hopes that Church Insurance will pay the majority of the costs, with any shortfall being made up for by the diocese and the local community.

An investigation into the cause of the fire by the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service concluded it was “accidental”.

Work was underway to replace the lead that was stolen from the South Aisle in 2019 following fundraising efforts to pay for it. Sparks from welding ignited the church’s thatched roof.


St Marys Church, Beachemwell, Norfolk, the day after a fire tore through the thatched roof and gu

St Marys Church, Beachamwell, Norfolk, the day after a fire tore through the thatched roof and gutted the interior.
– Credit: Andrew Higgins/Ecclesiastical Insurance/Thousand Word Media Ltd


St Marys Church, Beachamwell.  Aftermath of the fire that ravaged the 11th century church.  Pictures:

St Marys Church, Beachamwell. Aftermath of the fire that ravaged the 11th century church. Photos: Brittany Woodman
– Credit: Brittany Woodman/ Archant

The first expertise had been carried out by the structural engineers following the fire on access to the building and the stability of the round tower of the church, which dates from the beginning of the 11th century, and the two large bells that ‘she wears.

The Diocese of Ely had said that if necessary the bells would be lowered and then moved offsite to a secure storage area.

Share.

About Author

Comments are closed.