A Grade II church in Hampshire has finally reopened almost a decade after a blaze left it almost gutted.
Eight years after the blaze, 100 congregants bustled into All Saints Church, in Fleet, to mark the return of their Sunday services.
The reopening is the result of tireless efforts of members of the community. Planning permission was originally granted in 2020, but money awarded by the insurance company still left the church scrambling for almost £1million.
The church had initially planned to include an adjoining annexe in the rebuild, but the financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic saw church leaders forced to think again.
Instead, the project prioritised the fundamental parts of the church building to ensure they were able to welcome congregants as soon as possible. The annexe is expected to follow once the additional funds have been secured.
Speaking to HampshireLive, Vicar and Rural Dean Mark Hayton said: "I am delighted to say we have finally completed Phase 1 and can open our doors to the public. We hope to have a formal opening ceremony after Easter when the Bishop of Guildford will attend to rededicate the church.
"Invitations will be extended to community representatives and all those who have played major roles in the rebuild.
“This includes the brave fireman who risked life and limb to save as much of the church as possible on the night of the fire. Many people have given so generously of their time, talents and money, and grant bodies have provided additional sponsorship.”