A Norfolk parish priest has answered 'grossly exaggerated" allegations that his committee have been slow to repair the historic Red Mount Chapel at Kings Lynn and allowed it to decay to a state "little short of a national scandal".
Members of the Kings Lynn Preservation Trust claimed recently that the chapel, used by many pilgrims on their way to Walsingham, "continues to decay alarmingly and must now be in as bad a state of disrepair as at any time since 1829."
But Fr Leo Hammond, Chairman of the Red Mount Chapel Committee and parish priest of Our Lady of the Annunciation said that the Trust's claims were grossly exaggerated and that although the chapel was in need of urgent repairs, the committee had done all in its power to preserve the building.
In November last year the Committee applied to the Historic Buildings Council for a grant for the repairs but administrative hold-ups have meant that no decision has yet been reached.
"It would be foolish to proceed with the repairs until we are sure we will get a grant," said Fr Hammond. £1,500 is needed to repair a damaged buttress and approximately £5,000 for other repairs.
"It is simply not true to say we have never done any repairs on the building," said Fr Hammond. "We have been spending money on it regularly for eight or nine years."
The Red Mount Chapel is in the middle of a public park and windows and doors of the chapel have frequently been broken by young vandals. Plans for future repairs to the building include a scheme for shutters to protect the windows from stone throwing.
The Committee is not going to make a public appeal for funds for the repairs. It would be unfair to the local people," said Fr Hammond. "Norwich Cathedral is already appealing for funds to mend its roof and other local churches already have appeals going."
Any shortfall in funds after the hoped for grant from the Historic Buildings Council has been received will therefore be made up from existing parish funds.