Cambridgeshire

Gamlingay church lead theft left roof 'open to the sky'

St Mary The Virgin Church
Image caption St Mary The Virgin Church is awaiting the outcome of an insurance assessment

Half of the roof of a Grade I-listed church was left "open to the sky" after thieves targeted its lead covering.

The theft at St Mary The Virgin Church in Gamlingay, Cambridgeshire, caused damage that could cost more than £100,000 to repair.

The Reverend Hilary Young said it was "highly distressing" but praised the "brilliant" community response.

Cambridgeshire Police said two vehicles containing lead were found nearby a short time after officers were called.

Image caption The Reverend Hilary Young said that people in the community "have been brilliant"

Earlier this month, the entire roof of a Grade I-listed church in Bedfordshire and about 20 tonnes of lead was stolen.

"We had hoped we weren't quite as vulnerable as we're surrounded here," said Mrs Young.

"It was really quite shocking to walk in to the building and see the half the roof basically open to the sky - it's highly distressing."

New security measures are being considered by the church, parts of which date back to the 13th Century, with a temporary cover installed so services can continue.

"We're hugely grateful a firm came at short notice to make the building waterproof short-term but a repair may cost over £100,000," said Mrs Young.

"People have been brilliant. I've been inundated with offers of help and condolences and that helps a lot. I'm so grateful for that support."

Image caption The theft of the lead left the church exposed to the elements

The church is awaiting the outcome of an insurance assessment.

Cambridgeshire Police said: "We were called at 08:32 BST on Thursday to reports of a theft of lead from the roof of St Mary The Virgin Church in Gamlingay.

"Two vehicles containing lead were recovered nearby a short while later."

Image caption A firm came in at short notice to make the building waterproof so services could continue

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