Work on much-needed repairs and improved facilities at King’s Lynn Minster is set to cost far more than initially thought, it has emerged.
Officials say they need to raise £270,000 by the end of the year to meet the revised £670,000 estimate of the total cost of the project.
And they have launched an urgent appeal both for donations and expressions of public support in a bid to persuade potential funders to back the cause.
Collections are being undertaken during events at the King’s Lynn Festival and a petition is being launched for people to support the campaign.
The minster’s vicar, Rev Canon Chris Ivory, said: “We ask the people of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk to give generously, but also to show that they think repairing and improving this special building is important.
“We also hope that local businesses will offer their support, as much by adding their name to the list of sponsors as by contributing to the fund.”
The minster, which dates back to medieval times, was placed on a Heritage at Risk register last year because several parts of the building were found to be in poor condition.
They include 10 windows facing the St James Street end of Saturday Market Place and rusted iron bars that support the building’s leaded windows, which are badly buckled in places.
Another point of concern is the condition of fractured stonework in the parapet of the porch on Saturday Market Place. It is feared that pieces of stone could break off the building altogether in winter, because of water freezing in the cracks.
The project also includes plans to install toilets and step-free access to the building and officials have pledged that half of the proceeds raised from the current appeal will be spent on them.
The minster was offered a £240,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund last autumn and a further £200,000 has already been raised.
But engineers brought in to assess the scale of the work required now believe the scheme will cost £200,000 more than its initial £470,000 budget.
Canon Ivory admitted the news of the increased price tag had come as a shock.
He said: “It took much longer than anticipated to complete investigations and prepare the plans.
“On the basis of the preliminary estimates, we thought that we would need about £70,000 when we launched a public appeal.”
It already costs around £100,000 a year just to keep the minster open and plans are also being developed for further repairs and improvements to the building, which officials believe will cost another £800,000.
But Canon Ivory believes the target can be reached.
He said: “If we could get 1,000 people to give £25, we’d have almost done it. In that sense, it doesn’t seem so bad.”
Collections will be undertaken during all of the King’s Lynn Festival events held at the Minster and following the concert by Clare Teal with her Hollywood Orchestra at the Corn Exchange on Sunday night.
A petition supporting the renovation programme was also launched at the weekend and residents are being encouraged to sign it, or write letters to the minster office to show their support.
Grant applications are also being prepared to Wren and the Garfield Weston Trust and Canon Ivory said: “One of the things that will really count to them is the community’s support for it.”
Donations can be made at the minster, its vicarage or online at www.stmargaretskingslynn.org.uk.
Letters of support should be sent to the minster office, St Margaret’s Place, King’s Lynn, PE30 5DL.