Church gleaming whiter than white for first time in 70 years

A complete “whitewash” of a north Suffolk church has transformed the interior.

For the first time in almost 70 years, the nave and chancel of St Margaret, Ilketshall, near Bungay, has been painted throughout.

The Society gave £3,000 towards the major redecoration, which took a three-strong team of painters a fortnight to complete. They applied three coats of whitewash, said the treasurer, Barry Chapman.

The redecoration project, which also involved repairing a number of cracks and also replacing some areas of missing plaster, cost about £7,000. The porch was also badly in need of some care and attention and needed a total of seven coats of whitewash, he added.

“What was a gloomy and rather depressing interior is now bright and gleaming,” said Mr Chapman. It was last painted in 1953, he added.

Fiona Chapman, who is the lay chairman and has been on the parochial church council for almost 30 years, said that the builder and painter Paul Birkin, of Ilketshall St John, has done a fantastic job. His team has also whitewashed and repainted a number of other local churches too.

A generous parishioner met half the cost of the re-painting. “When the scaffolding was taken down, we could see it just looked glorious,” she added.

Mrs Chapman said when the interior was last decorated, the wrong mix of products was used. The architect, Philip Orchard, of the Whitworth co-partnership of Bury St Edmunds, recommended traditional whitewash.

In October, electrical work costing about £10,000, was completed as pew heaters and lights were upgraded. The Suffolk Churches Trust gave £1,500 towards the cost, which was greatly appreciated.

Mr Chapman is now looking to the next big event in the church calendar – the Christmas eve carol service, Thursday, December 24, 2020. It starts at the village hall at 3pm, then processes to the church.