Monday, 19 December 2011

Back to the Future – Reepham Church Norfolk Restored for Medieval Use

The £360,000 award-winning restoration of St Michael’s and All Angel Reepham has taken the church ‘back to the future’, so it can be used in the same way as when it was built in the late 14th century.


The church, with its open space in the nave, can host events for all ages: dinners, lunches, breakfast networking events, receptions, concerts, exhibitions, community and business meetings, conferences, community activities and church services that require space and mobility.

The adjacent St Mary’s Church, connected by a corridor to St Michael’s is the parish church where more formal services take place.

The restoration has won the following awards: RIBA East Spirit of Ingenuity Awards 2011 – Community Architecture Award (A Squared Architects); Norfolk Association of Architects Craftsmanship Award (highly commended); CPRE Norfolk Award 2011 and Broadland District Council Enhancement Scheme (highly commended).

Jo Tym St Michael’s Project Manager explained: “We want St Michael’s to be used and enjoyed by the community just as it was in medieval times. Churches were once at the centre of all community activities not just worship. We have a wonderful historic church, which is equipped for 21st century use and we invite everyone locally to help us take the church ‘back to the future’.”

The £360,000 project was half funded by a legacy. Some £70,000 came from Reepham’s low carbon challenge and paid for heating, a further £47,000 came from public donations and fund raising. There were also major grants from the Norwich Diocese, John Jarrold Trust, Garfield Weston Charitable Trust, Geoffrey Watling Foundation, Love Norfolk and The Rank Organisation.

The chancel in St Michael’s which is separated from the nave by a glass screen, is open daily and welcomes visitors who want to enjoy the tranquillity of the church as well as explore its history. It can be accessed from St Mary’s, also open daily. Services are still staged in the chancel and nave. The famous Kerdiston tomb, one of only three box tombs in the UK, is in the chancel of St Mary’s.

The three parish churches for Reepham (St Mary’s), Whitwell (St Michael’s) and Hackford (destroyed by fire in the mid 16th century) unusually shared the same churchyard. St Mary’s and St Michael’s were separate parish churches until the 1930s. St Michael’s has had some community use since the 1970s, but the new project ensures that the church offers an attractive multi purpose space that meets all the standards required for 21st century community life.

For further information contact Jo Tym 01362 688281, email jo@physiotym.co.uk.

Photograph by John Tym