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History of St Mary's Church (Addendum)

As you read the history you will quickly see that things have changed since it was written.

Our church has been regularly used since its construction in c900, and as you will have read, it has been adapted by successive generations so that it was more suited to their needs.

For many years it had been obvious that major work was needed if the church was to continue to serve the
people of Watton and the surrounding area into the future.
The pews and the nave floor were rotten, the choir stalls and chancel floor were in a similar state, the lighting
and mains electrics were failing, the east chancel wall was on the move, and last but by no means least
the ornate blue chancel ceiling was loose and liable to fall down at any time.

The church is grade two star listed, so we had to obtain the relevant permission before any work could begin. By early 2011 we had appointed an architect and contractor and been granted the faculty (the churches version of planning permission). We also had sufficient funds in place to cover the cost of the architect’s estimate.

The church was closed in September 2011 and work began, but it was soon apparent that we would have to borrow money if all the work was to be completed.

In April 2012 the church was reopened and re-dedicated by the Bishop of Lynn, by then the exterior wall had
been rebuilt and re-rendered, the floors had been tiled with Norfolk ‘pamments’ the pews replaced by
comfortable chairs, the electrics and lighting had been replaced and a new audio-visual system had been
installed. And yes, conservators had secured the chancel ceiling to the roof timbers above.

Since the re-opening we have held an art and photography exhibition, a flower festival, quiz nights, concerts,
coffee mornings etc. and organisations such as the scouts and the air cadets have held their presentation
services here.

Of course we have also held our regular services, plus baptisms, weddings and funerals.
As we had hoped, it really is now a versatile space for all of the local community to use.

Some items mentioned are no longer here; the rood screen, pulpit and brass eagle lectern for example. Where possible they have been relocated to other churches.

The money that we borrowed? That came to £220,000, which eventually we have to repay. There was more that we would have like to have done.

The organ, which is used regularly, needs refurbishment, and the quote for that is £30,000, so we are trying to raise that money as soon as possible.

And the chancel ceiling? The conservators estimate £30,000 to 40,000 to restore it to its former glory. That may have to be a project for future generations.


To see pictures of the progress, the open weekend and the dedication service, please go to the "St Mary's Updated" section on the right of the Home page

Robert Hardy, Churchwarden, February 2014