Angels enable work to begin at St Nicholas' Chapel

On Friday 29 August at 11am the first sod was turned at the official ground breaking event to mark the start of conservation and adaptation work at the historic St. Nicholas’ Chapel in the heart of Kings Lynn. The ceremonial event was followed by a reception in the nearby Trues Yard to thank those who have enabled the project. As a result of the successful ‘Calling All Angels’ fundraising campaign to raise £210,000 towards securing a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, the project is now ready to start. The £2.7 million project has been supported by a number of key donors, including the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Garfield Weston Foundation, King's Lynn Preservation Trust and The Green Energy Trust, Scottish Power.

Crispin Truman, Chief Executive of The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) opened the ceremony. He said:

“It is wonderful to be marking this phase in our ‘New Life’ project which has involved so many people in the community… not only The Churches Conservation Trust and the Friends of St Nicholas but the ‘angels’ who supported us by donating so generously in order to help us secure funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.”

Speakers at the event will included Philip Venning OBE, who is a Heritage Lottery Fund committee member for the East of England and a former chief executive of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. Sir Jeremy Bagge, whose ancestors are commemorated by several monuments in the chapel, will also spoke at the event.

Adrian Parker, Chairman of The Friends of St Nicholas said:

“At last we shall see exciting changes underway that will encourage more groups to use the Chapel all year round, with local management.  The next challenge is for us also to raise the money to repair the bells and bring them back into use”.

St. Nicholas’ is the largest chapel in England, whose earliest parts date back to Norman times. The current project aims to bring the church back to the heart of community life in the town. The church has been successful in the recent past as a much-loved public venue for events, thanks to the enthusiastic and dedicated Friends of St. Nicholas’ Chapel, who have put on concerts, fairs and exhibitions there. The work that is about to begin will help to consolidate this role by providing the facilities and space needed to make the church suitable for a diverse range of uses as a community and cultural centre.

The Chapel will be a largely volunteer managed site and will demonstrate how money can be saved through green energy technologies. Throughout the project a training and learning programme in historic building conservation will provide opportunities for people to observe craft and construction skills first hand.

Historic building specialists William Anelay Ltd, one of the UKs longest established construction companies, have been appointed as Principal Contractor. The William Anelay team will be undertaking urgent repair and conservation work and installing new, high quality facilities that will bring new life to the chapel.

Tony Townend, Managing Director of William Anelay Ltd said:

“We are very pleased to be involved with any Grade I listed building but specifically on this occasion to see St Nicholas' Chapel have a new and expanded use within a revitalised shell.  This project offers us the opportunity to help educate and train through learning programmes, local people, who will benefit our specialist area of conservation and restoration of historic buildings.”

The work on the chapel is due to be completed by May of next year, and St. Nicholas' will re-open in late summer 2015.