Elmswell church fully reopens after lead theft and repairs

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Image source, Peter Goodridge
Image caption,
Lead was stripped from the roof on 11 November, ahead of a weekend of Remembrance services

A church which was severely damaged by rain after thieves stripped its roof of lead has fully reopened.

Roof slates were taken from St John's at Elmswell near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, just ahead of a weekend of Remembrance services in November.

Church services have been held in front of plastic sheeting and scaffolding while £35,000 worth of repair works, raised through fundraising, took place.

The lead roof is due to be replaced by a stainless steel version in September.

Image source, Peter Goodridge
Image caption,
Plaster fell from the chancel ceiling on to pews, but not when anyone was sitting there
Image source, St John's Church
Image caption,
Sheets concealed the chancel while work to replaster the ceiling was carried out
Image source, St John's Church
Image caption,
A scaffolding platform was erected under the chancel ceiling for the craftsmen to complete the plastering
Image source, St John's Church
Image caption,
The Reverend Peter Goodridge said he is "really pleased" to have full use of the church again

The raid took place on 11 November, after which rain got in and accelerated damage to the chancel ceiling, with plaster falling down on to pews.

External masonry was damaged but no-one was injured.

The plastering repair work began in March.

'Dust damage'

"The ceiling's done and we're really pleased to be able to use the full church again," said the Reverend Peter Goodridge.

He said the organ has been out of action since the repair work started and will have to be serviced to check for "dust damage".

The less-valuable stainless steel roof will cost about £40,000, and Mr Goodridge said Historic England would not oppose its use instead of the more traditional lead.

Image source, St John's Church
Image caption,
The organ, pictured before the replastering, will have to be serviced before it is used again

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