St. Mary’s Church – Norfolk, England

Originally built in the 1600’s.

The church’s bell tower was in unstable condition, and most of its bells had been sold off over the years to help fund its upkeep. Left with only 3 bells, they had not rung for nearly 70 years due to structural instability.

Architectural and structural woodwork had been damaged over the centuries due to unfavorable weather and wood-boring insects.

During World War II, a bomb landed only yards away from the church, destroying its largest stained glass window above the alter and causing various other damages.

With an estimated cost of $150,000 for the restoration, public funds were simply not available for the project to even begin. American Friends of British Art became involved in 2003 to provide assistance.

Since restoration, the church has new foundation beams and bell-frames that allow for the bells to ring again after 70 dormant years.

Since restoration, the bell tower now contains a full peal of 8 bells, which have all been cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London, where the original Liberty Bell was cast for the United States of America, and where the church’s original bells were all cast nearly 400 years ago.

Since restoration, architectural woodwork continues to be replaced as funds are made available.

HM Queen Elizabeth II made a personal visit to the church after hearing about the restoration work taking place.

The church gained international attention as the focus of a BBC documentary titled, “A Passion for Churches,” which highlighted the efforts involved in saving this historic church from ruin.

Between 2004 and 2007, American Friends of British Art provided $7,000.00 USD toward the restoration of the bell tower project.

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