Bury St Edmunds MP visits church to see roof renovation work
- Credit: Archant
A Suffolk MP paid a visit to a town church as renovation work to replace the roof at the historic building nears completion.
Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill was given a tour of the Church of St John the Baptist in Needham Market today to view the improvement work taking place at the Grade I-listed building.
The project to repair the church’s unique oak single hammerbeam roof – which was damaged by infestation, rotting wood and water ingress – began in January following a two-year fundraising campaign.
Money was raised in the community and as well as donations, the church received a £227,800 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to reach its £377,000 goal to fund the project.
A new oak cross was installed on the ridge of the church on July 2, and the work on the leaking roof is on schedule to be finished by the end of the month.
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The improvement work will allow the number and range of church events to be expanded, including concerts, stage presentations and question time events.
The building’s value as an educational resource will also be developed, with opportunities for more school visits and full day projects, in addition to using the church as a drop-in centre for advice on social issues.
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Sunday services have been transferred to the church hall and the Limes Hotel in the town on an alternate basis during the works.
Mrs Churchill said: “I was delighted to visit St John the Baptist Church in Needham Market, especially as it took me back to my days running a heritage restoration company.
“In particular, it was great to see the progress to the building up close at 50 feet in air.
“The design and craftsmanship, sourced largely from within the region, is of the highest standard. As a group we discussed the benefits the restored church will bring, not only to the congregation but the whole of Needham Market.
“I am so pleased that this has been made possible with the help of Heritage Lottery Funding and the hard work of fundraisers like Ray Levett. I can’t wait for the scaffolding to come down and for this beautiful building to continue delivering for the whole community.”
Reverend Canon Diane Williams said: “Jo was very enthusiastic and encouraging about the work, and very keen to get up there.
“The Limes Hotel has been very good for our services, along with the church hall, but it will be great to be home.
“It’s a community asset and the community have been wonderfully supportive throughout.”
Celebration events to mark the completion of the repair work are planned for September 14-16.