St Margaret’s Church, Thorpe Market – a community asset looking to a post-Covid future.

The Annual Parochial Church Meeting will be held on Friday 28th May at 6.30pm. This meeting will be held in the church, or in the churchyard, depending on the Covid restrictions still in force at that time.

2020 was a quiet year for our church in Thorpe Market, with just a handful of services and events taking place due to the Covid pandemic. The pandemic has had far-reaching implications for all our futures, and no less for the future of our church in Thorpe Market. It is on the subject of that future that the church council wishes to consult the villagers of Thorpe Market and the wider circle of friends of St Margaret’s church.

We are now trying to look forward to how things will settle into a “new normal” in 2021 – how the church can “Build Back Better” as the Prime Minister puts it. Some of the changes in our living and working patterns during the pandemic may become permanent, with more people working from home and more people making use of local amenities. Unfortunately for St Margaret’s, that has also meant a number of its regular volunteers who used to commute from some distance have chosen to refocus their lives elsewhere, leaving a big gap in the energy and skills needed to help the church re-awaken after the pandemic is over.

In common with many villages, Thorpe Market has seen a lot of house sales during 2020, which means the church now has a lot of new neighbours. Normally we would look forward to welcoming them at one of the events happening at St Margaret’s, but that is not possible for the time being and we can only look back to what used to happen, and what we very much hope will happen again in the church.

The crowning event of our calendar is Snowdrop Sundays. This event has taken place on every Sunday in February for over 20 years – but not this year, for obvious reasons. The snowdrops came regardless – but no tea and cake this year.

Another category of events that has been a regular success in recent years is art exhibitions. These have been very ably managed by Katayoun Dowlatshahi from Northrepps, we now have an excellent set of professional art display stands.

In former years, St Margaret’s was a regular venue for concerts of all types of music, children’s groups, professional and amateur, and could easily be so again. The church is also equipped with a large cinema screen and projector and good catering facilities.

Probably the most popular amenity at St Margaret’s has been the paper, glass and clothes recycling points, together with the village library, which we hope to be able to re-open later in the year. Our churchyard continues to be a haven for wildlife, supporting the continuance of many rare species of wild flowers, and for the past few years, the production of some excellent honey!

The visitor book tells us that many people come to visit the church in search of ancestors and family history, and we held a well-attended local history evening in the church a few years ago.

We feel that St Margaret’s is already an excellent community resource, with the potential to become even better; but the Covid pandemic has brought us to a crossroads. In deciding which way to turn, we need to hear back from Thorpe Market’s villagers, both old and new, as well as from the wider circle of friends and visitors who have supported the church in the past. There are a number of options for what could happen, and these are laid out in our Options for the Future.

When you have had a look at the options, we would be very grateful if you could fill in a short survey to help the church plan for the future.

We would like everyone who cares for the future of our church in Thorpe Market to look at our “options for the future” document, and to take part in our consultation. The options for the future document can be downloaded on the link below:

The survey can be filled in online by clicking here

Alternatively, if you prefer, you can print out a paper version and return it to the box at the back of the church.