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First christening in 37 years at restored church on the Ickworth estate

The Rev Michael Banyard, Ollie Porter, Helen Seaton and Jack Porter at St Mary's Church, on the Ickworth estate

The Rev Michael Banyard, Ollie Porter, Helen Seaton and Jack Porter at St Mary's Church, on the Ickworth estate

The first christening in 37 years has been held at a recently revamped historic church on the Ickworth estate.

Jack Porter is the first youngster to be christened at St Mary’s Church since Lady Victoria Hervey in 1977 - and is the grandson of church co-ordinator John Porter.

The Grade II listed church was brought back into service last June following a £1.2 million restoration backed by the Eighth Marquess of Bristol, whose family once owned the Ickworth estate.

Mr Porter said: “It was fantastic and Jack was brilliant. People came from all over the country and before the service started they wanted a brief history of the church.”

One month-old Jack is the son of Ollie Porter and Helen Seaton, of Fordham, and the service was conducted by their local vicar Michael Banyard.

They held a celebration at the Six Bells, in Horringer.

The church, which dates from the 13th Century, was decommissioned in 1984 and was on the English Heritage At Risk List from 1998.

The current Lord Bristol helped form the Ickworth Church Conservation Trust seven years ago to bring the church back to its former glory.

The £1.2 million project was jointly funded by English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Ickworth Park Primary School held the first harvest festival at the church since it re-opened.

Mr Porter estimates the church will cost about £10,000 a year to run and emphasised that they are reliant on donations and fund-raising.

The church can only hold six services a year.

He explained: “One is a harvest festival and one is a carol service.

“We can have four wedding blessings, christenings or similar.”

They also have four events planned this year with The Edmund Octet in May, Kirbye Voices and the Piper Quartet in June as well as the Aquarius Singers in July.

Anyone who is interested in volunteering or fund-raising should contact Mr Porter on 01284 735006.

 

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