Car rally kicks off Open Churches’ Week in Norwich

Open Churches' Week kicked off in Norwich today with the fourth annual ecclesiastical classic car rally.

More than 60 vintage cars left Norwich Cathedral at about 9.30am en route to Raveningham stopping off at eight churches along the way.

The rally took in the churches at Caistor St Edmund, Shotesham, Chedgrave, Loddon, Hales, Stockton and Toft Monks, before finishing at lunchtime at the Raveningham Centre, about 10 miles south-east of Norwich.

The oldest cars involved were a Talbot 1936, MG Magnette 1934 and a Rolls Royce 1932, which belongs to Peter Howkins, from Upton, near Acle.

Sharing the car with Mr Howkins were Chloe Ecclestone and Ivan Barnard, both from Acle and churchwardens at St Mary's Church, Fishley, near Acle, driver David Alp and Gerald Shelton.

Mr Barnard said: 'This is the fourth year we have done this and we do it to publicise Open Churches' Week.'

Mr Howkins has owned the Rolls Royce for about 30 years, but unfortunately, it only does 15 miles to the gallon.

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Ray Kinsley and his wife Joy, from Brundall, were taking part in a 1972 Triumph Stag.

Mr Kinsley, who has had the car about 15 years, said: 'We like taking part in rallies rather than static car shows.'

Mike Dickinson and his navigator Darren Hall, both from Swanton Morley, were taking part in a 1965 MGB Roadster, which Mr Dickinson has owned for eight years.

Mr Dickinson said: 'This is the fourth time we have done it. It's a good trip out and somewhere different.

'The architecture of the churches is nice and it's good to visit some churches that are normally closed. There's a friendly group of people taking part.'

Meanwhile, across Norfolk more than 300 historic places of worship threw open their doors today, as part of a packed programme of special events and activities lined up to encourage people to visit churches throughout Open Churches' Week, which runs until Sunday, August 13.

Events include a Ludham at Work exhibition at St Catherines, Ludham from tomorrow to Sunday, August 14 daily from 10am to 5pm.

Jennie Hawks, Historic Places of Worship Support Officer, Diocese of Norwich, said the week would showcase the wonderful historic churches which have been part of the rich history of Norfolk for over a thousand years.

For more on Norfolk Open Churches Week 2011- visit, or pick up the Open Churches 2011 booklet at TICs throughout the county.