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Locals 'devastated' as fire rips through 11th century church and destroys thatched roof

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 02/02/2022 Telegraph reporters
Beachamwell Church - PA © PA Beachamwell Church - PA

"Devastated" residents have described seeing a fire rip through an 11th century church in Norfolk, destroying the thatched roof of the Grade I listed building.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service said that six fire engines attended the blaze, which was now "under control".

"We will have a presence on scene for the rest of the day at least," a spokesman said.

Beachamwell Church - PA © Provided by The Telegraph Beachamwell Church - PA

John Sanderson, an 87-year-old man who lives in the village, said residents were "devastated".

"All the roof is gone. I think just the walls are left," he said. 

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"I just came back from the supermarket and saw police cars tearing down the road. When I got back I was told the church was on fire."

Historic England, the public body that looks after the country's heritage buildings, said it was "saddened" by the news. It said the building is "a rare surviving example of a medieval, thatched-roofed church".

Beachamwell Church - Joe Giddens/PA © Provided by The Telegraph Beachamwell Church - Joe Giddens/PA

"We are liaising with the church and local authority and will look to support them," it added.

It is understood the church was closed for repairs at the time of the fire.

The fire service later said crews were "scaling down" their response, and thanked residents for their patience.

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