THE tower of St John the Baptist, High Toynton, in the diocese of Lincoln, collapsed suddenly in the early hours of Sunday morning. Police have confirmed that no one was hurt.
The Rector of High Toynton, Canon Charles Patrick, said: “Its obviously a great shock to see the devastation and a great gaping hole. . . . The fire service did a thorough job and brought in dogs, just to ensure nobody was found.
“It’s an old building, and all old buildings need maintenance: it is a ‘Forth Bridge job’: it always needs something doing.”
It was “merciful” that no one had been inside the building when it collapsed, he said.
Investigations have begun into the cause of the collapse. A structural engineer was due to visit the church on Monday, but some residents believe that the months of heavy rain may be to blame.
The church’s insurers had been informed of the collapse, Canon Patrick said, and the fallen masonry in the churchyard had been cordoned off.
The exact repair cost is not yet known, but residents in the village — which lies in the Lincolnshire Wolds near the town of Horncastle, and has 133 residents — have already set up an initial appeal for £100,000 to restore the church.
swnsSt John the Baptist, High Toynton, in Lincolnshire, before the collapse of its tower
Before its collapse, the church tower was known for an unusual octagonal upper storey and short spire. Dedicated in honour of St John the Baptist, the church was rebuilt by Ewan Christian in 1872, and replaced the original 13th-century building.
There are a variety of stones used in the build, although it is primarily greenstone. There is also a piece of engraved stone that had been reused near the footings of the tower.
A resident of High Toynton described the collapse of the tower as a “disaster for the village”.
Another resident said that it looked as though the historic church had been “hit by an earthquake”.
Lincolnshire Police has said that officers will now carry out regular checks on the site.