For 150 years, the east window of the south aisle at Banham Church has captivated worshippers and visitors.

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But the panes of colourful glass were carefully removed on Monday after it emerged that a gust of wind or the opening and closing of the historic building’s door could have caused the beautiful stained glass window to fall and shatter.

Workmen began the delicate task of taking away and boarding up the window at St Mary the Virgin after a survey last week revealed that it could collapse at any moment.

Officials at the church at Banham, near Attleborough, have now begun fundraising to pay for the £10,000 emergency repair works, which will be completed by Devlin Plummer Stained Glass, of Great Moulton, when the money has been raised.

The window, which depicts Christ’s birth, Baptism and Ascension to heaven, is evidence of the early work of famous 19th century stained glass artist Henry Holiday and uses specially-etched and moulded glass, which is no longer made.

Queda Hutton, one of the church wardens at St Mary’s, said there was a danger that the window could be boarded-up for years if they did not get help from the local community to get it completely re-leaded and cleaned.

“It is 150 years old and when stained glass windows are made, the lead is stretched and over the years it starts to loosen up. If we do not take it down, a gust of wind could knock it down. It is irreplaceable and, if we lose it, we would lose it forever,” she said.

The church wardens at the Grade I listed building aim to apply for a grant from English Heritage to pay for the repairs. However, the local community would still need to raise at least 20pc of the money, said Mrs Hutton. She added that the larger east window of the church would also need repairing at some point in the future.

The Rev David Hill, Rector of St Mary’s, added that the parish church was well used and a focal point of Banham.

“This is a fantastic church and one of the reasons it is Grade I listed is because of its fantastic Victorian furniture and the stained glass windows inside this medieval building. It is a church that is much loved and the community will not let it fall over,” he said.

Henry Holiday was stained glass window designer at Powell’s Glass Works in London from 1861 to 1891. He fulfilled more than 300 commissions, mainly for American clients, which makes the Banham window even more valuable.

A fundraising concert will be held for the window appeal on Saturday, June 23 in the church at 7pm with Mean Time playing the Flutes of Love. Tickets are £10 and available from 01953 888590 or 01953 888333, Banham Post Office and Rosedale Funeral Home in Attleborough.

adam.gretton@archant.co.uk

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