May 23 2013 Latest news:
By Ross Bentley
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
SUPPORTERS are hoping to raise around £300,000 to update a west Suffolk landmark.
The group, the Friends of St Peter in Sudbury, want the money to make improvements to St Peter’s Church which stands in the town’s marketplace.
The renovation plans for the Grade I-listed building include construction of a toilet block. improved access and modernisation of kitchen facilities.
But Roger Green, chairman of the Friends of St Peter, said it will be at least a year before any work is likely to start
He said; “We are at an early stage and have liaised with a number of bodies including English Heritage, the Statutory Advisory Council and Suffolk County Council. They have now gone away and are deliberating.
“We hope to maintain the success of St Peter’s by making the venue more comfortable for people to use. Once we have got the go-ahead, we hope to make a big appeal to grant-making bodies, as well as local businesses and private individuals.”
St Peter’s was closed for public worship in 1971 but has remained an important venue for events in Sudbury ever since. Concerts, craft fairs and a monthly farmer’s market are all held in the building, which dates back over 600 years.
In 1976 the Friends of St Peter was formed with the aim of keeping the building open, in good order and enabling its use for the benefit of the community.
In the same year, ownership of the building passed to the Churches Conservation Trust, which cares for the building and has spent thousands of pounds maintaining it over the years.
Mr Green said the trust had backed the plans, which include proposals for a glass vestibule to be built at the entrance to enable visitors to get a better view of the church’s interior.
He said: “Many people come to see the wonderful architecture and heritage of St Peter’s but, currently, people who want to look inside the building when no-one is there have to borrow a key from designated keyholders, which isn’t the best arrangement.
“Often people just want to stand in the entrance lobby and see what is there and feel the atmosphere.
“We are hoping to make that possible by putting in place a secure glass vestibule where visitiors can see into the building but also read about its history.
He added: “St Peter’s is physically in the heart of the town.
“It is also at the heart of the town with regard to people who live in Sudbury.
This is demonstrated by the number of people who attend events there – 60,000 last year.
“What we are trying to do is to provide better facilities for those who visit us.”