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Campaign to maintain church goes online

PUBLISHED: 17:16 19 June 2008 | UPDATED: 11:14 03 July 2010

FUNDRAISERS are being called on to help with the maintenance of a village's 800-year-old church ruins through a new website.

Visitors can find out more about the history of Grade II listed St Margaret's Church site, as well as filling in some missing details about the history of the ancient ruins by logging on to www.

FUNDRAISERS are being called on to help with the maintenance of a village's 800-year-old church ruins through a new website.

Visitors can find out more about the history of Grade II listed St Margaret's Church site, as well as filling in some missing details about the history of the ancient ruins by logging on to www.oldstmargarets.com.

The webpage also contains information about the plans for the site, how these plans are progressing and a comments section.

Hopton parish councillor Brian Howard, who sits on the sub-committee for the ruins, said so far only £12 had been raised through the sale of a booklet about the site at fetes. But more money had been promised by businesses and other donors which should take the eventual total into the thousands.

Darren Barker, Yarmouth Borough Council's conservation officer, is also helping the committee secure grant funding through the lottery and English Heritage, which protects England's historic environment.

Cllr Howard explained the ultimate aim was to use the ruins as a community facility, but a lot of money was needed to achieve that and the website was set up for this fundraising purpose.

He said: “It is a publicity thing. We aim to get more people in Hopton seeing the ruined church. At the moment, they see the church, but not the ruins around it and do not pay much attention to it.

“But it is the village's oldest heritage site and when people find out how old it is the whole attitude changes completely.”

Originally, the borough council was going to buy the ruins and then pass them on to the parish council.

But the picture had not looked so rosy in January after the council's conservation section decided it could not afford to buy the site off the Church of England itself for £1.

Insufficient funds were available to cover the £15,000-a-year maintenance costs in addition to the £300,000 needed to stabilise the buildings.

Mr Barker told the Mercury the borough council had passed the responsibility for the sale to parish council and was initially going to meet part of the legal fees.

But it subsequently discovered all the legal costs could be met through the council's historic buildings budget.

Cllr Howard said he was still waiting to receive the legal paperwork from the borough council to complete the sale and said the process had been delayed by the council officers' heavy workload.

Within five to 10 years the council hopes to provide community facilities on site including a community centre and café, and will remove a fence surrounding the site.

Donations can be made by post to Julie McNair, Parish Clerk, 3 Flowerday Close, Hopton, NR31 9RR.

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