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New Catholic church may be built

PUBLISHED: 06:28 17 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:18 24 February 2010

A NEW Catholic church is set to be built in Framlingham as its congregation prepares to celebrate two major anniversaries.

Saint Clare's, a wooden building which has served as the town's Catholic church for 50 years, is to be rebuilt in brick.

A NEW Catholic church is set to be built in Framlingham as its congregation prepares to celebrate two major anniversaries.

Saint Clare's, a wooden building which has served as the town's Catholic church for 50 years, is to be rebuilt in brick.

The proposed new building, on the same site in Fore Street, will be about 3m wider, and will include a bell tower.

The historic town was the scene of the restoration of the old faith in England by Mary Tudor 450 years ago on either July 20 or 21, 1553. The new strongly Catholic queen was at Framlingham Castle when news came of her accession to the throne of England. A crucifix was set up, and a Te Deum sung.

On July 21, 1953, the first mass in a Catholic church for nearly 400 years was celebrated at Saint Clare's in Framlingham. The hut, advertised as "suitable for a battery chicken shed", was converted into a church for the small congregation of about 35.

Now its congregation numbers more than 100, and hopes to mark its golden jubilee and the 450th anniversary of the first restoration of the Catholic religion in England in a new building. Its priest is Father Tom Fenlon, who serves Woodbridge and Framlingham parish.

Church deacon, Reverend Michael Vipond, said they were hoping the new Catholic bishop of East Anglia Michael Evans would be able to come and bless the foundation stone on July 21 of this year.

The planning application for the site, which lies within a conservation area, is due to be considered by Suffolk Coastal District Council's development control sub-committee on Wednesday .

Planners have recommended approval of the plans, and Framlingham town council and the Framlingham and District Local History and Preservation Society also support them.

Reverend Vipond explained that they had outgrown their old church.

"It isn't big enough. We have a maximum setting for 95 and we get more than that most Sundays and, of course, any special feasts and celebrations or anything and it isn't big enough at all," he explained.

"We have been lucky thus far, because obviously being so much wood, we could get woodworm and various forms of damp, and it won't last forever."

Although it would cost a lot, he felt a new church would send out a message.

"I think a new building makes a statement about a community," he said. "It's saying 'we are here'."

Supporters have been contributing to the building fund, including the Duke of Norfolk, and an anonymous donor who had contributed a large sum.

"A number of people have made donations, including a very generous one from one member of the diocese," said Reverend Vipond.

"We hope some of the community will be involved in some of the building work and decoration work," he added.


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