LEAD thieves have targeted a 16th-century Grade II church in North Yorkshire, causing more than £100,000 of damage.
The group stole an estimated 60 per cent of the nave roof of St Peter’s, in the village of Brafferton, exposing its wooden roof structure to the elements and causing extensive flooding in the church after a night of heavy rain.
The Revd Carmel Gittens, one of the benefice’s assistant curates, said: “We have just had a £160,000 lottery grant and completed numerous repairs and improvements to the church, including redecorating, rewiring, and recarpeting; so we are absolutely devastated.
“We have contacted our insurance company, but they will only cover £7500, and the actual cost is around £100,000.
“It’s difficult to ask the community for help, especially with Christmas coming up, but any donations would be extremely welcome.”
The roof of St Peter’s has been covered temporarily with a plastic sheet, until money can be raised for a permanent repair. “It isn’t the perfect solution, but for now it will have to do,” Ms Gittens said.
The diocese of York estimates that sheet lead worth £2.5 million has been stolen from 20 of its historic churches in 2019 alone.
A public meeting led by the Priest-in-Charge of Alne and the Brafferton Benefice, the Revd Deborah Coyne, and the Archdeacon of York, the Ven. Samantha Rushton, was due to be held in the village hall, Brafferton, last night, to explore responses to the theft.
“This has been a heartbreaking blow for Helperby and Brafferton,” Ms Coyne said. “St Peter’s is a much-loved building in the village and the surrounding area, whether people are regular worshippers or not, and the theft of the roof covering is a blow to all of us.”
A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Police said: “This thoughtless, heartless theft has caused significant damage to a historic building. Those responsible should be thoroughly ashamed of the consequences of their selfish vandalism.”
Anyone with information is asked to phone North Yorkshire Police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, and quote reference number NYP-22112019-0094.