Great Yarmouth parish church set to be elevated to minster

CELEBRATIONS marking the elevation of Great Yarmouth’s parish church to a minster will see mayoral regalia dating from the 17th century on show in public for the first time in living memory.

Mayor Barry Coleman has decided to add to an occasion already brimming with pomp and ceremony by dusting down a ceremonial silver mace made as a symbol of high office when the role was first introduced in 1684.

He said the granting of minster status to St Nicholas Parish Church was significant enough to warrant the use of the engraved hand-held mace which belonged to the borough but was locked away in the town hall’s strong room.

The inauguration by the Bishop of Norwich next Friday during the borough’s annual civic carol service will see the church become one of 16 to take the title in the last six years. Mr Coleman said he was especially pleased the status was being conferred during his year of office giving him an opportunity to use the ceremonial mace.

He said: “It is not something that people would even know existed, but it is part of the regalia. It is older than the chain and not something someone would go around with all the time but it belongs to the borough and like any work of art, its nice to be seen.”

Meanwhile a new logo is seeking to boost the church’s profile as a minster ahead of its official inauguration, stressing the close association of town and church, mingling elements from both shields. The new image, hatched by Blackwell Print and Marketing, in Yarmouth, features the borough’s lion/fish symbol alongside three golden globes representing the three pouches of gold handed out by St Nicholas.

The building, which is the largest parish church in England, will be known as Great Yarmouth Minster following the special service.

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The Rev Chris Terry, team rector of Great Yarmouth, said: “It will be a great occasion in the sense of marking a new chapter in the life of St Nicholas Church because it recognises its importance as a civic and religious presence within the town. It’s a big thing for Yarmouth, bringing a new responsibility and great importance.

“It is the place where the town gathers for the special civic services that affirm the place of faith in our communal life and also for social events as such the Christmas fair, college graduation ceremony and concerts.”

Graham Gooda, chairman of Blackwell Print and Marketing, volunteered to create the logo to give the minster an identity.

“I saw the three pouches on a wrought iron screen inside the church and just went ‘ching’,” he said.

“I was really pleased when they decided to go with it. It is the first time in many years that it has changed and I am delighted to be a part of it.”

The service which will include traditional carols and the signing of documents confirming the minster status will take place on Friday, December 9 at 7pm. All are welcome to attend.