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Bright future for Harleston church window

PUBLISHED: 12:23 02 May 2010 | UPDATED: 11:32 12 July 2010

Worshippers and visitors have gazed in awe at the thousands of pieces of stained glass that have illuminated St John the Baptist Church for 135 years.

But the intricate west window of the church in Harleston is set to be removed piece by piece next month as part of a painstaking restoration project.

Worshippers and visitors have gazed in awe at the thousands of pieces of stained glass that have illuminated St John the Baptist Church for 135 years.

But the intricate west window of the church in Harleston is set to be removed piece by piece next month as part of a painstaking restoration project.

Officials from the south Norfolk church were told two years ago that the stunning stained glass window was at risk of collapsing after being weakened by the ravages of time.

The focal point of St John's is set to be secured for future generations after supporters and custodians raised almost £19,000 to replace the lead and clean the glass.

Work will begin from next week to carefully remove the stained glazing from its crumbling lead supports before being pieced back together in two months time. About 12 broken panes will be replaced after being smashed by vandals over the years.

The restoration of the west window, which was installed in 1875 and depicts the life of John the Baptist, comes after the Friends of St John's raised £14,000 through several charity coffee mornings, barbecues, quiz nights, bazaars, and social events. The parochial church council also received £3,500 grant money to carry out the project.

David Shipp, chairman of the friends group, said he hoped the work will be completed in time for a performance of the London Mozart Players chamber orchestra at the church later in the summer for the Harleston and Waveney Festival.

“We were told two years ago when they put the new roof in that the next project is the west window. If we do not do it the window would collapse and with a good westerly wind, it would eventually come in. It is going to be really brilliant when it is cleaned,” he said.

Rev David Jackson, rector of St John's, added that the project aimed to make the church more welcoming to townsfolk.

“One of the brilliant features of the church is the stained glass and we encourage people to admire it. Once the window is done we have to start thinking about the toilets and updating the kitchen and making it a building that the community in Harleston can be proud of,” he said.

Fran Pitt-Pladdy, vice chairman of the Friends of St John's, added: “It could last another 20 years if no one touches it and we do not have a storm. The cobwebs are there deliberately to keep the glass in!”

The restoration work will be carried out by Devlin Plummer Stained Glass, of Great Moulton.


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