Two hundred and seventy people enjoyed a weekend of events at Bressingham Church to celebrate the completion of a £250,000 Heritage Lottery Fund building repair project to make this architecturally important landmark building watertight and preserve it for future generations to enjoy. Matthew Champion kicked off proceedings on Friday evening with an extremely well-received, lively and ‘illuminating’ talk on the hidden history in Bressingham Church. Matthew’s talk included showing people changes in the layout and appearance of the church over the centuries, and more detailed information about hidden graffiti and the building’s most important feature: the magnificent carved pre-Reformation bench ends. The evening had promised to make people look at churches in a ’new light’ and it really didn’t disappoint. (Matthew is an archaeologist and historian who has specialised in medieval graffiti – ancient graffiti in churches is only revealed by fluorescent light, hence the puns!).
The church looked splendid and colourful all weekend thanks to a Floral Festival by nine local groups who thoughtfully created beautiful and fragrant ‘country garden’ floral displays in the church. The flowers really made the church come alive, and the work by the local community really showed how much local goodwill and support there is for this ancient building. Blessed by warm, sunny weather, the weekend culminated in a service of thanksgiving for the restoration of the church roof, led by the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev’d Graham James. Bishop Graham gave thanks for the restoration work and he emphasised the importance of Norfolk’s churches as local landmarks, community hubs, and a vital spiritual resource. Bishop Graham said Norfolk would be “flattened” without our magnificent churches. The service was attended by the local community and many of the craftsmen and consultants who helped make the entire project such a success, and attendees enjoyed wine and nibbles following the service. St John the Baptist PCC would like to thank everyone who contributed to the project.
HLF development and delivery phases include:
2016: Development Phase funded by HLF – Investigate ‘opening up’ works with wildlife reports, archaeology report, historian’s report, building assessments, access reports.
2017-2018: Delivery phase funded by HLF – new downpipes and gutters; nave and south aisle roofs releaded; new bellicote; new soakaways (with archaeologist supervision); repairs to the tower roof; flint work repair; improvements to the south porch; new lighting and improved heating.Heritage Activities in 2017:
Historical landscape walk by Professor Tom Williamson launched Bressingham and
Fersfield History Group
History Group training sessions at Norfolk Archives and the Norfolk Historic
Environment Record offices at Gressenhall
Graffiti Project by Matthew Champion (graffiti survey and graffiti workshops with
Bressingham Primary School, and talk at HLF celebratory weekend)
Bench Ends project (Richard Hayman survey and report on the bench ends; booklet on the bench ends produced by Bressingham and Fersfield History Group)
Medieval Weekend and Church Ale (with historical reenactment professionals, De Mowbrays.