Builder’s ‘behind-the-scenes’ restoration tour is fully booked

A behind-the-scenes tour of restoration work at church in the Waveney Valley is fully booked.

On Saturday, April 1, builder and stone mason William Tyrrell and colleagues will brief about two dozen visitors about the restoration work at St Michael & All Angels, Geldeston.

The two-hour guided tour will start with a description of the work at the historic round tower church. The “what and the how” of traditional techniques will be explained including the use of lime plaster.

Churchwarden Catherine Bickmore, who has organised the tour, said that it follows another highly successful visit to specialist glaziers, Devlin Plummer at Great Moulton, on Saturday, March 25.

An earlier visit, which was hosted by Terry Devlin, in late November, was also popular. It helped to raise funds towards the restoration of the church.

A specialist firm in repairing and restoring churches is also celebrating its golden jubilee this year.

Tyrrell Builders & Son Ltd, of Yarmouth Road, Thorpe St Andrew, near Norwich, was established in the same year, 1973 as the Society.

Today, the third generation to run the family firm, Mr Tyrrell, is working on churches across east Norfolk and north Suffolk. “We did even venture as far as King’s Lynn but most of our work is almost on our doorstep,” he said.

His grandfather, Rowland and his son, Roger, started the business 50 years ago. After seven or eight years, they were doing more and more work on churches. William Tyrrell, who has a three-strong team, will be working on two south Norfolk churches in the coming weeks – initially St Michael, Geldeston, and also St Michael, Stockton.

They’ve completed several other restoration projects at Stockton including rebuilding part of the vestry about eight years ago. The latest task is more modest but necessary – repairing a crack in the buttress supporting the nave end of the tower.

The long-serving fabric officer, Bill Marven, who has been churchwarden as well as his caring for the building for 22 years, appreciated the efforts of William Tyrrell and his team. Thanks to a grant of  £2,400 from the Norfolk Churches Trust awarded in November last year, the “stitching“ of the crack should be completed well in advance of the Society’s visit to the church on September 2.

Mr Tyrrell has a more challenging task at Geldeston but again this work should be finished later this spring. He has worked on a number of round tower churches including more recently repairs to St Peter, Theberton, and St Margaret’s, Old Catton. The work at Theberton included repointing the base of the tower plus further replacement of stone and glass higher up.