A golden jubilee of church tours in Norfolk will be celebrated on Sunday, July 21. The 50th anniversary of Norfolk Church Tours starts at Gressenhall, near Dereham, at 2.30pm when ‘Lyn Stilgoe, Richard Barham and Michael Pollitt will talk about the exterior and interiors.
The tours, which are free, started in 1969 when Mid-Norfolk farmer Richard Butler-Stoney, of Mileham, and a small group of like-minded enthusiasts, decided to visit churches in the immediate neighbourhood. Then the other 50 or so churches in the Dereham in Mitford rural deanery were visited over the years before spreading further afield.
Mr Butler-Stoney also researched and wrote many of the early church guides, which are still published and made available today.
Mrs Stilgoe, who took on the challenge after Mr Butler-Stoney’s death, has now written a total of 250 guides over the years for the Norfolk Church Tours.
St Mary’s, East Bilney, is the second church to be visited before visiting St Mary Magdalene, Beetley. At the tea, a special cake will be cut by Mr Butler-Stoney’s sons, Tom and Mark to mark the occasion.
Then, after talking about the history of one of Norfolk’s smallest churches, St Peter and St Paul, Bittering, there will be a service of Evensong at 6.30pm to be led by Tom Butler-Stoney. All are welcome to join the tour, which will be the last of the season.