Hopton St Margarets Ruined Church


St Margaret’s Church on Coast Road (also known as Hopton Ruined Church) burned down in 1865 and was replaced by the existing church of the same name, on Lowestoft Road. The crumbling grade II listed ruin appears on the English Heritage buildings at risk register and is fenced off from the public due to the risk of injury.

The ruin is at the centre of the village, and acts as a visual marker and physical connection with Hopton’s origins and heritage. The flint, brick and stone structure is increasingly fragile, and had reached a tipping point of accelerated deterioration. Without intervention there was potential for it to be entirely lost.

The Parish Council, concerned about its condition and fearful of its loss, purchased the ruin from the Church of England in 2009. The Parish Council teamed with Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust, and after a successful bid for funding plans were drawn up for a project to repair and protect the old church from further damage. This project would have the added benefit of providing opportunities for training and engagement activities.

In September 2011, Andy Phelps wrote a historical building survey:

Icon Andy Phelps Report (1.9 MB)

The work started in April 2014 with trainees learning how to repair and consolidate flint walls. The main issues found on the building was vegetation growth inside the wall, as well as deterioration of the mortar causing the flint to become loose. The trainees had to learn how to safely remove the vegetation, and dismantle and rebuild the unsafe sections of wall.

Students doing Basic Construction from Great Yarmouth College did some work experience at Hopton, where they learned how to work with traditional building materials, in contrast to the more modern techniques they learn in college. The students chosen were selected because they could be trusted to work in a hazardous environment, not just due to the condition of the ruin, but also because some work up high would be necessary. It was therefore required that the students chosen had the utmost safety knowledge.

The work was finished in 2016, with the garden being open to the public in October 2016, and the ruins being open in April 2017. As a result of the hard work, the building was removed from the at risk register.

Press Release July 2015
Surveying and Recording
Hopton - Volunteers Surveying Image

Volunteers were given on-site formal training in surveying and recording methods to carry out measured surveys and recordings, from which technical drawings of the site could be recorded. Led by Ian Hardy, trained Architect and Conservation Officer at Great Yarmouth Borough Council and supported by Project Manager, Franziska Callaghan and Project Coordinator, Rachel Harrison. Click for more information

Conservation Training
consolidation commences Image

Conservation Training continued in 2015. Volunteers were given on-site training in the use of lime mortar to carry out repairs. Professional conservators and stonemasons were on hand to guide the volunteers through the consolidation process. Click for more information

Archaeological Dig
Hopton Progress 54 Image

Led by Giles Emery from Norvic Archaeology, a community archaeology dig took place, allowing volunteers to come and take part in discovering the ruin’s original footprint, as well as locating the Sayers Tomb steps and vault. Click for more information

Tower Works
Hopton Site Survey - February 2014 Image

Works to the tower started with a structural survey carried out February 2014. A year on, and the work had been through the tender process and the contract awarded to Medieval Masonry Ltd. From there, it was joy watching work on the tower progress. Click for more information

Traditional Building Skills
Peter Minters Visit Image

The volunteers have had to use very traditional building methods and materials in the project. Using only flint, brick, lime, sand and gravel to complete the work, we have managed to make the building more safe, as well as allow the church to look how it would have when it when it was still intact. Click for more information

Heritage Open Days
Hopton heritage open day 2014 Image

The old St. Margaret’s Church ruins were open for the Heritage Open Days in 2015. We had different events on each day along with displays about the project and church, and an exhibition of work from the Hopton Village History Group. Volunteers were on hand for questions, and visitors may have even seen a few Medieval locals roaming around… Click for more information

Other Events
Hopton Fundraising Stall Image

Other events and activities connected to the project: Sunday 19th July 2015 - Hopton Village Fete and Carnival Wednesday 29th July 2015 - Exhibiting at the Time and Tide Museum, Great Yarmouth Sunday 30th August 2015 - Medieval Fayre - Hopton-on-Sea, on the School Field. Friday 11th, Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th September - Heritage Open Days Click for more information

project funded by:-