Spirits high for restoration of historic church

TEAM EFFORT: Christine Ruggles-Brise with the Rev Val Gagen and fellow churchgoers.
TEAM EFFORT: Christine Ruggles-Brise with the Rev Val Gagen and fellow churchgoers.

Fundraising to save a church which was built in Anglo-Saxon times and is rumoured to be haunted has been stepped up.

An estimated £80,000 is required to repair the roof of Borley Church.

Built in the 12th century, the building is in dire need of restoration.

Its congregation is hoping that a series of fundraisers, along with help from English Heritage, will allow the building to be maintained for the future.

“The church was inspected last year and the roof needs work doing on it,” said Christine Ruggles-Brise, a member of the church’s parochial council.

“We think the costs will be substantial – somewhere in the region of £80,000 – but, although the work will have to be done, it will be a gradual process.”

The church is closely linked to Borley Rectory, which was once described as the most haunted house in England.

The Victorian building has now been demolished but, as a result of ghostly sightings and other paranormal activity in the 1920s, many people still visit the church believing it to be haunted.

“The church goes way back and although some say it is haunted, most tend to agree that was the rectory,” said Mrs Ruggles-Brise, from The Old Maltings in Long Melford.

“It still doesn’t stop lots of people coming down to have a look and to say they have been in a haunted church.”

The rich history of the church also includes Humphrey Burroughs, the uncle of Thomas Gainsborough. Mr Burroughs was vicar at the church from 1727 to 1738 and his commemorative stone can be found by the altar.

To begin the north side roof repair fund, a country garden wedding-themed flower festival will be held at the church next month.

“Although it is a little church, it is very well attended and every effort is being made to keep it open to as many people as possible,” added Mrs Ruggles-Brise.

The festival, which will feature wedding photographs from 1948 to the present day, will take place on June 22 and 23.

The church will be open from 11am to 5.30am on the Saturday and from 2pm to 6pm on the Sunday, with refreshments at the village hall.