Church tower appeal succeeds

A MAJOR fund raising appeal has succeeded in stopping a church tower from collapsing.Villagers have raised the £220,000 required to strengthen All Saints' tower, Wickham Market, which is a prominent landmark in the Woodbridge area.

A MAJOR fund raising appeal has succeeded in stopping a church tower from collapsing.

Villagers have raised the £220,000 required to strengthen All Saints' tower, Wickham Market, which is a prominent landmark in the Woodbridge area.

A Thanksgiving Service was held in the church attended by more than 100 people at which Geoffrey Arrand, archdeacon of Suffolk, praised the congregation for their hard work in raising the money.

John Eldridge, vicar, said: "To have lost such a landmark, which can be seen for miles around, would have been a great tragedy to both the church and the locality.

"We would like therefore to give thanks to God for all the people who have given so generously towards the considerable cost of strengthening and rebuilding of All Saints church tower."

Donations have been received from as far afield as Canada and these have been recorded in a Book of Donors with details of grants, trusts, loans and fund raising events.

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Bryan Hall, chairman of the Tower Appeal committee, said: "We are thankful to English Heritage who provided a significant contribution towards the overall cost. Without their support the project could not have been contemplated or completed."

The church bells fell silent more than four years ago when the tower was declared unsafe after cracks appeared in the tower and flints fell off the tower facing.

In 2000 an appeal was started to repair the tower – but this turned into an urgent English Heritage priority one rated appeal when it was discovered the tower had twisted and sunk more rapidly than expected, probably because of recent wet years.

Mr Hall said: "It started off as an appeal for £85,000 plus VAT with work including better drainage to get the water away from the base and to stop it falling. It was heading towards the medical centre and although it has a small lean still, the tower has been virtually straightened."

The cost rose when it was discovered that a major rebuild was required of the tower and the repairs required 70sq m of flint. The churchyard footpath and the path to the medical centre had to be closed for more than a year for safety reasons.

The church was built in the 14th century and the octagonal tower and spire is 137ft high.

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