Fakenham church tower closes for first time in history

A 14th-century church tower which dominates Fakenham and is one of the biggest in Norfolk has closed for the first time in its history due to health-and-safety concerns.

An inspection this week concluded that urgent work needed to be done to the massive 115ft upper tower at Fakenham Parish Church and railings would be needed on the tower roof.

Rev Adrian Bell said: 'Sadly this will mean the end of flying flags from the church roof, which, in the past, has marked occasions such as the tragic death of Princess Diana to the recent Battle of Britain commemoration.

'I will endeavour to have the restoration work undertaken as soon as possible.'

Rev Bell said that an application would be sent to English Heritage for funding to help cover the cost of the repairs and a five-day flower festival starting on September 30 will raise money towards it.

He was unable to say at this stage what the exact cost of repairing the tower would be but said that approximately �200,000 would be needed for this and other repairs to the church over the next two to three years.

Rev Bell said: 'I am positive by nature and I see it as my job to get the tower back into good working order and to ensure that the church is in good order for the next generation. The main concern now is to not jeopardise people's safety.

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'With a lot of hard work flags could be waving from the tower again in summer next year.'

All the proceeds from the festival, called Headline News in Flowers, will go towards restoring the tower.

It will run from Thursday to October 4 from 10am to 5pm each day with a festival service on Sunday, October 3, at 10.30am. The flower festival opens at 12pm that day.

The festival will have 27 set arrangements and will show major world events from the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb to the election of the first black president of America.

Entrance is free and festival programmes are �1 each, refreshments will be available and there will be disabled access throughout.