MP Richard Bacon launches newly refurbished Norfolk church
- Credit: Roger Ranson
MP Richard Bacon joined more than 100 guests for the opening of a new community centre in a south Norfolk village church following an eight year project costing almost £200,000.
The MP for South Norfolk praised the work undertaken at grade II listed St Michael's Church in Flordon, which has included the removal of pews and the installation of modern amenities, including improved heating and lighting, to make the church suitable for community activities and to secure its future.
At the launch event on Saturday evening, he described the project as the kind of scheme all communities were having to undertake to make use of local facilities and reinforced the fact that people were looking to use buildings within their own communities rather than travel elsewhere.
Toby Howes, chairman of the Flordon Community Trust, which manages the church, said: 'We had a lovely opening evening. There were lots of people there. There must have been 100 people at the opening and we had lots of food and wine.
'There is now a new community space for smaller events for people in this area.'
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She said the work had included a new oak floor and lots of comfortable chairs, as well as a new oak kitchen and improvements to the vestry, which she said had become dilapidated.
Improved disabled facilities have also been added.
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The 11th century church was once a round-towered church, but the Victorians replaced the fallen tower with a red brick wall and a bellcote during general restoration work.
Until the 1970s, there was a parish room in the rectory grounds used for community activities, then for a number of years a club house provided by a local resident was used for a chat group, children's parties and harvest suppers.
However, when this was no longer available, the Parochial Church Council decided to undertake the ambitious project to repair and adapt the church for community use by effectively returning to the church to a pre-Victorian state before pews were introduced.
To complete the work, the trust needed to seek funding and received a £91,000 grant from English Heritage, while it has also received support from National and Norfolk Churches Trusts, South Norfolk Council and other funding bodies, including the Diocesan Mission Fund and local residents.
During the eight-year project, structural repairs were also carried out to the roof and buttresses to make it sound.