Lord Bristol’s ancestors have been buried at Ickworth Church for 500 years but on Friday he saw it as he has never seen it before.
Watching a craftsman installing a newly restored stained glass window he said: “I’ve never seen it without all the windows boarded up.
“It was last used when my brother got married in 1984. I was only five then.”
But he stressed that he and the other trustees behind the Grade II* listed church’s restoration now need to recruit volunteers to ensure its future back in the community.
The church in the grounds of Ickworth House, his ancestral home, dates from the 13th century and is no longer consecrated. It was for many years on English Heritage’s ‘at risk’ register.
With help from English Heritage and a Heritage Lottery Fund grant it is now close to the end of its restoration and has been changed from dark, dirty, leaking and pigeon infested dereliction into a building to be proud of, with lost details, including a wall painting, revealed once more.
Now, John Porter, project coordinator has to recruit volunteers.
“It’s not just stewards to sit and look round, but a whole list of volunteers,” he said. “We need volunteers for everything from cutting grass to creating tours.
“It will be very much a tourist attraction but we need to have events here because we’ve got to have some income for the future.”
Trustee Simon Pott said that because it is not consecrated it can only be used for the occasional service, like a carol service, and cannot be used for weddings, but can be used for blessings.
Volunteers required include researchers, a bell ringer, clock maintenance and flower arrangers. Anyone interested in helping should contact John on 01284 735006 or at firstname.lastname@example.org