St Nicholas Church chronicle coincides with anniversary

THE history of Great Yarmouth’s St Nicholas Church has been chronicled in a book by a local historian to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the start of restoration work on the church.

Michael Boon, the former chief executive of Great Yarmouth Port Authority, has completed his book Foundation, Destruction and Restoration, which provides an insight into some of the major events affecting the church including a wartime air raid and the start of work to restore the church.

He recounts details of the traumatic raid during the Second World War on June 25, 1942, which gutted the huge building overnight.

For the greater part of the next 20 years the congregation made its home in St Peter’s Church, while efforts went on to clear and salvage the structure, which had been the centre of the town’s religious life.

It was only in April 1957, after a massive fundraising effort by the townspeople, that a contract was signed and work began on fulfilling the promise that the church would rise again.

In chronicling the struggle to achieve this aim, the author has drawn upon the diaries of Walter Wiseman, who was much involved in the work and the reports in the Parish Magazine by the then vicar, Rev Gilbert Thurlow.

In recounting the early history of the Church, founded in 1101 by Bishop Herbert de Losinga, Mr Boon’s own study expertise enabled him to bring to life the story of the Bachelor’s Aisle, funded by the young men of the town in the 14th century, but not actually completed because so many of them were wiped out when the Black Death more than halved the population.

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He tells how St Nicholas Church was involved in a number of cases where the rules of sanctuary were invoked in the 13th and 14th century, whereby a murderer managed to reach the church porch, to confess his crimes and be protected for 15 days during which time he could actually leave the kingdom without being tried.

The book includes a donation to the St Nicholas Preservation Trust, which aims to restore and maintain the church site, of �15 for a hardback copy and �10 for a paperback. The book will be �55 for a hardback copy including the donation and �40 for the paperback copy including the donation.

l To apply for a sponsor’s edition, send cheques made payable to Michael Boon at Hill House, 5 Addison Road, Gorleston, NR31 0PA, with full name, addresse and contact details, by email or by mail, and including an SAE, by the closing date of June 17.