Community rallies to save more than 1,000 year old wall

Volunteers taking part in the repairing of the wall. Picture: Marc Betts

Volunteers taking part in the repairing of the wall. Picture: Marc Betts - Credit: Archant

It tells the history of a village across more than 1,000 years.

St Nicholas Church had a Saxon tower but it fell down in the 1950s. Picture: Marc Betts

St Nicholas Church had a Saxon tower but it fell down in the 1950s. Picture: Marc Betts - Credit: Archant

Now, volunteers have been rebuilding the boundary wall outside of Feltwell’s St Nicholas’ Church, near Thetford.

The church dates back to the Saxon era with repairs completed over the years creating a unique village timeline.

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) hosted the works with volunteers from the village to repair the traditional flint work while also learning new skills that can be used on their own properties in the village.

Joe Oris, 59, is the Fenland area SPAB representative. He said: “The build is to try and help the parishioners of St Nicholas’ and St Mary church which are two medieval churches in the same parish.

Volunteers taking part in the repairing of the wall. Picture: Marc Betts

Volunteers taking part in the repairing of the wall. Picture: Marc Betts - Credit: Archant


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“The Saxon tower has fallen down but it is a very significant church and the wall is quite important but there aren’t enough funds to do this with a contractor as it is very time consuming and specialised.”

The two day trial saw more than 20 volunteers take part. While doing the work a survey was carried out which will help the team approach plans to repair the full boundary wall later in the year.

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Mr Oris added: “What we decided to do was involve local people and members of the SPAB who don’t have the acquired skills for doing this traditional lime and flint work to build up a better skill base.

“In the Victorian times we had a problem of buildings being over repaired, where as we say you don’t have to do a lot but just enough to hold it still.

The group of volunteers who took part in repairing the wall. Picture: Marc Betts

The group of volunteers who took part in repairing the wall. Picture: Marc Betts - Credit: Archant

“Repair it in a manner that looks sympathetic, using traditional materials and lasts the test of time without spoiling the pattern of the historic building.”

As well as residents the team was joined by students from the College of West Anglia.

The repairs were set-up with the help of parish councillor Sue Garland. She said: “This project celebrates and supports traditional skills such as flint knapping and the use of lime mortar, through the urgently-needed repair of our listed churchyard wall. Happily it involved the local community, supported by specialists and the SPAB. We are delighted and grateful to have been offered this opportunity.”

For more information about SPAB go to www.spab.org.uk.

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