Service at St Nicholas Church in Great Yarmouth remembers war

FIFTY years to the day after its re-consecration, after virtually being destroyed in the second world war, a special service was held in St Nicholas Parish Church in Great Yarmouth.

The church at the heart of the town had lain in ruins after being butted by German bombs in 1942. It took 15 years, but eventually the rebuilding was completed in 1961.

On Sunday, the Mayor, deputy Mayor, High Steward of Great Yarmouth, the deputy Lieutenant of Norfolk and the High Sheriff of Norfolk processed along with three councillors from the Town Hall to the church where they were met by the Bishop of Norwich and members of the Yarmouth clergy team.

The service started with an air raid warning from a second world war siren, followed by a minute’s silence in memory of those who were killed during the war.

During the service, reminiscences of the church in its pre-war years was graphically given by 90-year-old Patricia Munford.

John Greenway, a choirboy during the first part of the war, re-told the story of the church’s re-building and restoration and the great effort that was made by the people of Yarmouth to preserve one of the town’s treasures.

Presents were given to four couples who were married and three people who were baptised in the church in 1961.

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The Bishop of Norwich preached and emphasised the greatness of Yarmouth and its interesting history. He felt that St Nicholas Church was important to the town and its people.

Its vastness, sufficient for the installation of a greyhound track, requires constant resources to keep the fabric in good order for future generation to enjoy.

His remarks were based on the Biblical text – “This is an awesome place”.

The congregation contained well over 300 people and many had travelled from afar to attend, including former ministers in the parish, one of whom, was the Rev Dendle French who was a curate at St Nicholas when it was re-consecrated.

After the service, a buffet was provided by the Freeman family and a bar by the Mariners’ public house in Howard Street.

After lunch, a performance was given by the Dragons’ Stage School with songs from the shows and the day moved seamlessly into a full choral evensong when the St Nicholas Church choir stunningly performed the canticles to the setting of Noble in B Minor. The preacher was the Rev Christopher Lowson, Bishop Designate of Lincoln.

During the day, �995 was raised for the restoration of the ailing church’s historic organ.

Displayed in the church for the next few weeks is an exhibition of art relating to St Nicholas Church and created by photographic and art students from Great Yarmouth College.

There is also an exhibition of archive photographs of the church.