ST JOHN'S CHURCH
Grade II listed, this Victorian church is situated on the corner of York Road and Lancaster Road, just a short distance from Great Yarmouth's seafront. Originally, the church was built as the headquarters for the Beach and Harbour Mission, an organisation which strove to improve the moral and religious condition of beachmen and sailors, as well as their families. Initially a humble church building, it was expanded over the years, gaining elaborate extensions and decoration.
Following several years of disuse, the Trust purchased the church in 2016. Various issues had to be addressed, such as the pigeons which had taken up residence in the roof, and the deterioration of the exterior flint walls and stonework on the windows and doors. In the years since, good progress has been made on returning the church to its former glory. Initial repairs on the roof have been completed, and some stonework has been restored with the assistance of Estonian students visiting the town on a conservation programme delivered by the Trust.
While ideas are developed for creative reuse of the building and funding is sought to enable repairs to the fabric, the space has been used for a series of collaborative projects between artists and architects.
To learn more, please visit the St John’s Facebook page here.
St John's Kneeler Cushion Project
This Heritage Lottery Funded project set out to record, clean, repair and conserve the historic kneeler cushions in St John’s Church. Following the successful conservation of the old kneeler cushions, the project was expanded to design and create new cushions, which reflected the lives of the present-day community and their diverse faiths, interests and stories. The volunteers were free to use any technique or style of needlework to achieve the designs they wanted. These were worked on in regular weekly meetings and at home.
The project culminated in an exhibition of both old and new sets of cushions in 2017, first at St John’s, then at Skippings Gallery. The cushions were also displayed as part of the Heritage Open Days.
A video was produced by Great Yarmouth-based filmmaker Joe Malcolm, documenting the St. John's Kneeler Cushion Project:
Stories of St John's
Stories of St John’s is a Heritage Lottery Funded project, which aims to conserve paper documents of special historical interest and investigate the stories they tell about the church’s former community.
So far, seven documents have been selected to be conserved and researched. Each was chosen for a different reason, such as its age, condition or importance to the town’s history.
One of these documents is a First World War Roll of Honour, which records the names of all the men of the parish who fought and died. Initially, the document was too fragile to be handled, but extensive conservation work has stabilised the fabric and enabled it to be researched.
As part of the project, the memorial plaques inside the church were also transcribed and recorded, and can be found here.
The project worked closely with the local community, drawing on their memories to bring together the stories of people past and present who are connected by the church. Community engagement has involved paper conservation, historical research, oral history recording, transcribing and artistic interpretation.
If you are interested in current volunteering opportunities on the project, please click here.