£1million worth of restoration improvements in Southwold
Monday 27th November 2017
Hundreds of people celebrated when a beautiful ancient church, with the largest medieval floor in Suffolk, was brought up to date, with more than £1million worth of restoration improvements.
The congregation of 15th Century St Edmund’s Church, Southwold, combined with members of the community to finance a transformation, that mixed the old and the new, to create an environment fit for today’s world. The generous giving included legacies and other funds raised by the Parochial Church Council in the past 10 years supplemented with grants from The Southwold Trust, Allchurches Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, National Churches Trust and Suffolk Historic Churches Trust.
A restoration of the roof costing £600,000 took place three years ago and this was followed by a £550,000 investment inside the church. This provided two toilets, improved access for people with disabilities, the creation of a flexible space, a sales/shop area, a children’s area and a refreshment point.
Bishop Mike, attended a ceremony at the church on Sunday 26 November to mark the restoration. He said: “I am thrilled to see the ways in which this Church, has been renovated to provide flexibility for all sorts of church and community groups to use the space, not least children and young people. The generosity of both church members and members of the wider community is testimony to the affection in which the church is held, and the ongoing impact and difference the church makes to the fabric of local life. The improvements will provide a springboard to even greater engagement with the community of Southwold, as well as providing opportunities for enhanced hospitality to regular and occasional worshippers.”
The Revd Canon Simon Pitcher, said: ‘‘The work was needed because the lack of basic facilities, toilets, refreshments, warmth and space were a deterrent to attracting use within the building. It was unchanged since Victorian times and while beautiful was not entirely fit for today's needs. It is still beautiful and now brought up to date with a happy blend of ancient and modern. The work is important because it enables the church to better meet the needs of the various users of the building. Different styles of worship aimed at different generations use the building differently, and we are now better equipped to serve a younger generation. Providing toilets is essential for all users and having a more flexible space will make the church a better venue for concerts and exhibitions. The interior is a very beautiful venue for weddings and baptisms.’’
Picture: Bishop Mike with The Revd Canon Simon Pitcher, church wardens Joan Goldsmith, Marcus Knight and the congregation. By Keith Mindham.