Buddhists plan healing centre

Dominic Bareham BUDDHISTS are bidding to build a monolithic dome to create a £1m healing centre in the ruins of a disused church.Leaders of the St Michael Project charity want to buy the site of the Grade 2 listed St Margaret's Church in Hopton on Sea and create a centre for healers and hold festivals and practice their faith.

Dominic Bareham

BUDDHISTS are bidding to build a monolithic dome to create a £1m healing centre in the ruins of a disused church.

Leaders of the St Michael Project charity want to buy the site of the Grade 2 listed St Margaret's Church in Hopton on Sea and create a centre for healers and hold festivals and practice their faith.

If they succeed, Hopton could become a centre for pilgrims flocking to participate in an annual summer solstice festival where worshippers gather on June 20.

The charity, named after a ley line linking St Margaret's in Hopton to St Michael's Mount in Cornwall, wants the 800-year-old ruins to continue to be used for religious purposes.

But one of the members of a parish council convened group concerned with buying the ruins off the Church of England said it is aiming to create a village meeting centre on the site.

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Dawn Criddle, a meditation leader with the Project, said although the proposed £1m healing centre would be Buddhist based it would be open to all denominations.

Visitors would be able to participate in Buddhist spiritual healing and learn more about the faith, while Buddhists would live in a building with a monolithic dome to the rear of the ruins. A pyramid-shaped structure, reflecting a Buddhist symbol, would be created amid the ruins where visitors could go for meditation.

The Project, a branch of the Buddhist organisation New Kadampa Tradition, will seek funding from a variety of sources including the National Lottery.

To raise awareness of the charity's plans, Marco Da Silva, a meditation leader with the Project, will be undertaking a four day walk starting today along the Wherryman's Way to Norwich carrying a replica of St Margaret's Church tower.

But Brian Howard, a member of the parish council-led group looking to take over the ruins, said there was no way the Buddhists' plans would get planning permission and added the council had virtually completed the purchase of the ruins for a nominal £1 fee from the Church of England.

He said Hopton already had the new St Margaret's Church, built in 1865, where people could practice their faith and the ruins would be used for the benefit of the village.

“They seem more interested in these spiritual ley lines than the religious aspect of the church. They would never get planning permission and I cannot see the parish council or anybody else supporting their plans to purchase the site.”