A church destroyed by fire rises from the ashes

The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, in front of the new stained glass East Window(Photo: Keith Blundy)

A church reduced to ashes by fire sixteen years ago has celebrated the completion of the final stage in its reconstruction.

St Brandon's Church at Brancepeth, County Durham, held a service of dedication over the weekend for the installation of their new East (Paradise) Window.

The Paradise Window features stained glass with beautiful floral motifs and was the last step in the reconstruction process that began after the devastating fire on 16 September 1998.

The Reverend Rick Simpson with Bishop Paul(Photo: Keith Blundy)

The design of the window, which was set in place last month, is intended to represent the church's hopes for the future and the life ever-after.

It was designed and constructed by Helen Whittaker, of Barley Studios in York, and draws from the story of St Brandon (or Brendan), who lived around 484 to 577 AD. St Brandon figures in The Voyage of Saint Brendan, written around 900 AD about his great journey across the sea.

The Paradise Window by Helen Whittaker(Photo: Keith Blundy)

Priest-in-charge at St Brandon's, the Reverend Rick Simpson said: "In many ways, this marks the completion of the rebuilding of St Brandon's, after the fire of 1998.

"The design and installation of a new East (Paradise) Window is the last major project of the re-imagining and restoration of the beautiful and historic building in which we have the privilege of praying.

"We did not want the window to be a memorial of the fire, nor a monument to the past of St Brandon's, but something that allows us to look forward."

The window was dedicated by the Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Paul Butler, who said he was "very impressed" with the restoration of St Brandon's.

"We must seek paradise not just for the future, but seek it now in our communities," he said.

"This is a contemporary piece of art giving hope for the future set in the context of an ancient building that symbolises new life and hope for the people of Brancepeth and the wider community."

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