Service of Rededication

The Bishop of Lynn, assisted by Adrian Bell, our Interim Priest, rededicated St Martin’s on Sunday following the successful conclusion of the first part of our restoration programme.  The church was completely packed for this important service in our history and it was standing room only at the back.  During the service the Bishop not only rededicated St Martin’s but he also blessed our new altar cloth, our new kneelers & a plaque in memory of Prince Frederick Duleep Singh.  It was a very moving occasion and people came from far & wide to attend the service.  Afterwards there was a sumptuous harvest tea with tea, coffee & champagne to complete the celebrations.

We couldn’t have done any of this without the enormous help & support we have had from many people especially the Heritage Lottery Fund, Norfolk Churches Trust & other funding bodies mentioned below.  There are too many people to thank individually but we are grateful more than we can say and couldn’t have done it without you.  THANK YOU!

Many thanks are also due to the Wayland Choir for their lovely singing and especially for singing the John Rutter anthem The Lord Bless You & Keep You – a favourite with many of us in the congregation.

Below is a copy of the address given by the Fabric Officer during the Service of Rededication:

“Thank you for coming here today to celebrate the rededication of St Martins’. As many of you will know, the church has been closed since November 2016 while we have carried out a major refurbishment of the roof. This was no small task, but you may be thinking what on earth was all the fuss about, as apart from some high level redecoration – & thankfully some new heaters, which will come into their own at the Christmas service – there is not so much to show for the 9 months of construction works.

 However, it is no exaggeration to say that the roof was in imminent danger when opening up works were carried out in late 2016. It was discovered that the ends of the 40 roof trusses that you see above you had suffered serious & in many cases terminal decay.

 In technical terms this meant that the trusses were no longer anchored to the outside walls & as a consequence the roof was spreading with real danger of collapse. The roof structure is a feat of medieval engineering. The scissor construction, whereby the components of each truss interlock & are braced together allow the very wide span of the nave. In order to affect a repair, the roof was stripped, rubble was cleared from the eaves, & each truss repaired in as sympathetic a way as possible & tied back into the outside walls. The new roof covering is supported on a structure designed to supplement the original roof structure, & at least 50% of the original pantiles have been reused.

 Bronwen has written eloquently about the origins of the church in the service sheet. A new guide to the church is currently in production. It is a happy chance that we are also able today to mark the contribution made by Prince Frederick Duleep Singh to a previous refurbishment of the church, just over a hundred years ago, with a plaque in his memory in the chapel. It is fitting that we are able to commemorate Prince Frederick’s generous commitment to underwriting the costs of the work when the church authorities ‘regarded the loss of the church as a matter of course’.

 Unfortunately this is not the end of the project: the extent of the refurbishment was such that we had to omit works to the chancel roof, which may well be in the same condition as the nave, drainage & ambitious plans to safeguard the internal woodwork, which is of ‘National Interest’ in the listing document, & notably the pews you are sitting on, which may be uncomfortable but were installed during the first half of the 17th century.

 We could of course not have carried out the work without the very significant support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Norfolk Churches Trust & other funding bodies mentioned on the back of the service sheet. HLF set the bar high in terms of qualification for a grant, but we were able to achieve the maximum grant possible at the time & in due course will be applying for further funding. We are also grateful to the consultants & contractors involved in the project, some of whom are here today.

 I would like to thank especially Bronwen, Bob, Angus, Henry & Katharine for their contribution to the work of our project committee, & to the huge support of Adrian & Marian, who have created such a positive environment in the Benefice…..thank you Adrian. Thank you also Jonathan for joining us for this special service, a century after the rededication by the Bishop of Norwich.

 Most of all the, & one of the remarkable by-products of the project, has been the real contribution of the local Thompson & wider Benefice community, whether this is time – fund raising, contributing to Lavender’s lunch, booksales, mowing the grass, working on the new altar cloth & kneelers, decorating the church or helping with the catering, or indeed cash donations. I think it is no exaggeration to say that has created a real ‘feel good’ factor amongst those who have participated.

 Finally, we are certain that these works will encourage a new interest in the church & its historical origins & context in the community, & most importantly as a place of quiet contemplation & worship.”

Photographs by Debbie Harris of 2upphotography

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