The Friends of St Michael’s Church Beccles
The Friends, a registered charity, were reformed in 2012 with the aim of raising funds to preserve the fabric and beauty of the building by contributing towards its restoration, maintenance and improvement, thereby preserving the building for future generations.
We were asked by the PCC if we could focus our fund-raising on the South Porch, which was high on the list in the quinquennial report and in desperate need of repair. This porch was built in about 1455 and interestingly in two types of stone but no-one knows why! It was originally highly decorated, the niches coloured in lapis lazuli and gold, and it has been described as an elaborate architectural masterpiece.
Phase 1 of the project involved repairing the porch’s internal masonry and pinnacles, costing £26,000. This phase was completed in 2016. Phase 2 - to restore and conserve the exterior stonework, completed in 2019 - cost a further £87,000. The Friends raised the necessary funds with the support of local charities, particularly the Beccles Townlands Trust and the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust, local businesses and members of the community.
The Friends hold fund-raising events throughout the year from lunchtime music concerts to cake stalls and producing Christmas cards and greeting cards. The Friends serve coffee every Friday morning - in church during the summer or in the Undercroft in colder weather - with freshly brewed coffee, homemade cakes and scones. A warm welcome is extended to all and it has proved to be a popular meeting place.