Re-opening of King’s Lynn chapel set to be delayed until autumn

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A historic Lynn church is unlikely to re-open to worshippers until this autumn because of delays to building work at the site.

The setbacks emerged as campaigners for the maintenance of the town’s St Nicholas Chapel launched a fresh appeal for fundraisers to help them meet the cost of restoring the chapel’s bells.

Work on the £2.7 million project, which will transform the building into a modern community and leisure facility, began last summer following a lengthy fundraising campaign by supporters and the securing of a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant for most of the cost.

The Calling All Angels appeal raised more than £200,000 to help secure the HLF’s support.

When building work began, officials had hoped the project would be completed by May of this year, in order for the building to re-open to the public this summer.

But Adrian Parker, chairman of the Friends of St Nicholas, yesterday said that more oak timbers in the roof had needed to be replaced than originally hoped.

He said: “We’re looking at an end of work in July.” It is now hoped the chapel will re-open in the autumn.

However, the delay does mean that, for the second year running, no King’s Lynn Festival events will take place at the chapel.

Mr Parker said the festival’s organisers had already been made aware of the situation so that they can organise the programme of events for the arts showcase, which takes place in July.

The appeal for donations towards the bells also comes after volunteers at the King’s Lynn Minster helped to see in the new year on Wednesday night.

A new team rang the minster’s bells to herald the start of 2015 after a number of new volunteers were trained throughout the past year.

And one of the ringers, Wendy Twite, is calling for the community to help raise the cash needed to complete the restoration of the St Nicholas bells as well.

She said: “It would be great for North End and the North Lynn estate to hear those bells as the sound of the Minster bells does not reach this end of town.”

Although the bells were removed from the chapel last July for the work to take place, around £20,000 is still needed to pay for the repairs.

And officials are hoping to have the bells back in their usual place by the end of March, before work in that area of the chapel is completed.

Mr Parker said the Friends are looking at making an application to the HLF to help meet the repair costs if not enough money can be raised within the community.

But he added that any application would be for more money than is needed to complete the repairs themselves, as the HLF requires an educational element to any successful bid.

Mr Parker said: “Anything we can collect will lessen that sum.”

Anyone interested in making donations is asked to contact Mr Parker on 01553 675574.

Supporters can also leave donations to the appeal at the Trues Yard museum.