Special day at special church

WEDDING bells rang out from a redundant Ipswich church which opened its doors for a family affair.Blushing bride Maria Booty was following a tradition which saw family tot up nearly 70 consecutive years running St Nicholas' Church.

WEDDING bells rang out from a redundant Ipswich church which opened its doors for a family affair.

Blushing bride Maria Booty was following a tradition which saw family tot up nearly 70 consecutive years running St Nicholas' Church.

Great grandfather, The Rev Harold Green, and great-great grandfather, The Rev Canon Samuel Green, served as vicar for 66 consecutive years, between 1896 and 1962.

A church has stood on the site for nearly 1,000 years and Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was baptised there.

Maria, 36, tied the knot with Jon Hinchliffe amid the peeling plasterwork and cracked tiles.

She said: "The diocese has been really helpful and they've had the cleaning squad in. I thought it would be impossible when we first suggested it but they've been so helpful.

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"I had grown up with so many stories and was very curious to see inside. As I walked up the aisle I could really sense the past and imagine my grandfather listening as his father preached.

"Apart from a little dust and flaky paintwork, it seemed just perfect."

While Maria and her family now live in Braintree, husband Jon, 37, is Ipswich born and bred.

It was after meeting in a hotel following a Rick Wakeman concert in Rotherham around two years ago that the couple's connections became clear.

A marriage proposal followed soon after and the pair then set their heart on getting married at the fifteenth-century church.

Although it has been redundant since 1985, they found a favourable response.

Nick Clarke, spokesman for the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, said: "This is an exciting occasion in the new life of the St Nicholas' Church. We hope the church will be reopened permanently next year and Maria and Jon's wedding is a premier to this."

Plans for £750,000 conversion are on the drawing board to create a conference and resource centre for the Church of England in Suffolk.

About 45 guests, including the couple's children Zoe, 12, Abbie, ten, Liam, ten, and Becky, seven, were at the ceremony, with a reception following at Great Blakenham's village hall.

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