The Saxmundham community gathered in St John the Baptist Church on Friday 23rd February to celebrate the completion of repairs to the fabric of the church with a fascinating talk by renowned ecclesiastical historian, Roy Tricker BEM.
Back in July 2017, St John’s received confirmation that the church had been awarded a £163,400 National Lottery award from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) enabling repair work to get underway on leaks in the roof and wear and tear on the ancient windows. St John’s also received £2500 from the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust as a further contribution towards the cost of the repairs. The repairs were complete, and the scaffolding removed, in February this year.
“We’re all completely delighted that the repairs and refurbishments are finished,” says Robin Potter, who led the project on behalf of the church. “It’s the result of an enormous amount of effort from everyone involved. We were working on the grant application itself for over two years.”
The celebration evening also saw the launch of a new church guide for St John’s alongside impressive display boards that highlight points of specific historical interest for church visitors.
“St John’s is the oldest building in Saxmundham,” says Robin Potter. “We know that it’s at least 900 year old because it’s mentioned in the Domesday survey of the area. It’s a fascinating building that has evolved over the centuries. The new display boards and guides have been designed to help visitors understand a little more about the fascinating building.” Roy Tricker spoke about the history of the building, explaining how it had changed over the centuries and pointed out some of the remaining most ancient features including the medieval piscina and rood screen remains. He lay on his back on the aisle to describe the magnificence of St John’s roof and the 15th century carved angel corbels with faces reflecting the characters of the men who made them.
“It was a delightful evening,” says Robin Potter, “I think everyone enjoyed themselves. It’s the beginning of a new chapter for St John’s”.