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Beautiful ancient church could collapse ‘like a pack of dominoes’ unless £50,000 is urgently found to fix dangerous roof

PUBLISHED: 10:26 10 February 2018 | UPDATED: 10:26 10 February 2018

St Martin's Church in Thompson is appealing for £50k to repair the roof. Some money has been raised by the National Heritage Lottery Fund but they need more to continue the repair work.
Angus Welch, Katharine Wolstenholme and Bronwen  Tyler.

Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018

St Martin's Church in Thompson is appealing for £50k to repair the roof. Some money has been raised by the National Heritage Lottery Fund but they need more to continue the repair work. Angus Welch, Katharine Wolstenholme and Bronwen Tyler. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

Archant 2017

It is regarded as one of Norfolk’s most beautiful ancient buildings.

St Martin's Church in Thompson is appealing for £50k to repair the roof. Some money has been raised by the National Heritage Lottery Fund but they need more to continue the repair work.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018St Martin's Church in Thompson is appealing for £50k to repair the roof. Some money has been raised by the National Heritage Lottery Fund but they need more to continue the repair work. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

But hundreds of years of history could be reduced to a pile of rubble unless £50,000 is urgently found to fix this building’s dangerous, rotting roof.

The nature of the roof at St Martin’s Church in Thompson, near Watton, means that if it were to fall, the rest of the building could go with it.

Builders who started work on the five cant scissor-braced roof have already declared it the worst they have ever seen and warned if they try to replace it, the whole building could fall down.

“If they take the whole roof off in one go, it could go down like a pack of dominoes,” warned Bronwen Tyler, from the church, which dates back to the year 1300.

St Martin's Church in Thompson is appealing for £50k to repair the roof. Some money has been raised by the National Heritage Lottery Fund but they need more to continue the repair work.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018St Martin's Church in Thompson is appealing for £50k to repair the roof. Some money has been raised by the National Heritage Lottery Fund but they need more to continue the repair work. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

“It is in an awful state.

“We had a site meeting last week where we were able to view the roof trusses for ourselves by climbing the scaffolding.

“The builders and architect say it is one of the worst roofs they have ever worked on in terms of damage and decay.”

As such they are trying to replace each of the 80 rotted rafter ends.

However it has meant project costs have shot up from what was originally expected, even though it has already benefitted from Heritage Lottery Fund money.

As such villagers have set up a fundraising campaign and website to save what they have described as a “wonderful, medieval church which is regarded as unique”.

Mrs Tyler said of the building: “It is so rare and people come for that – not because they’re religious but because it is so historic.

“It is described as a gem by a great many people.

“We are desperately short of money to do all that needs doing to restore the church and face the prospect of cutting out some works in order to do the roof.

“We’ve got a band of people working to get it back to its beautiful state.”

It is not the first time St Martin’s Church has been in a fight for its survival – it was one of the many historic sites in Norfolk saved by Prince Frederick Duleep Singh more than 100 years ago.

And Thompson is also well-versed in raising money for community projects – although the £700,000 for its new community hall came from the will of a single generous benefactor.

For more information about the campaign, visit www.stmartinsthompson.co.uk

People can also donate at www.justgiving.com/stmartinschurchthompson

Cheques and cash can be sent: to The Treasurer, College Farm, College Road Thompson IP24 1QG.

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