Fire-ravaged Royston church added to Heritage at Risk Register, while village windmill removed

PUBLISHED: 08:31 17 October 2019

Evidence of the fire at Royston's St John the Baptist Church in Melbourn Street. Picture: DANNY LOO

Evidence of the fire at Royston's St John the Baptist Church in Melbourn Street. Picture: DANNY LOO

©2018 Archant

A Royston church has today been added to Historic England's Heritage at Risk Register after a fire destroyed part of its roof and bell tower.

Great Chishill Windmill has been removed from Historic England's Heritage at Risk Register. Picture: Peter HomentGreat Chishill Windmill has been removed from Historic England's Heritage at Risk Register. Picture: Peter Homent

A fire started in St John the Baptist Church in Melbourn Street on December 9 last year and caused serious damage to the roof, tower and nave floor, as well as to the organ and bells.

The Grade I-listed church has now been added to the Heritage at Risk Register - a list of historic sites most at risk of being lost.

It is the only surviving part of an Augustinian priory, which dates from the latter half of the 12th century.

Scaffolding is currently in place and a repair scheme has been developed.

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Elsewhere, Great Chishill Windmill on the Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire border has been removed from the Heritage at Risk Register because its future has been secured thanks to community intervention.

The Grade II*-listed post mill is an example of the earliest type of European windmill. It has the date 1712 scratched onto a stud and it is thought it was rebuilt in 1819, with the main post renewed in 1868. Patent sails, allowing all sails to be adjusted without stopping the mill, replaced canvas sails around 1912-16.

To bring it back to working order, a small group of villagers set up Great Chishill Windmill Trust, which has carried out three phases of renovation with grant support from Historic England and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

Following the £110,000 project, the windmill was reopened in June by pop star Sam Smith, who grew up in the village.

David McKeown, trustee and project manager of Great Chishill Windmill Trust, said: "MillBill Millwrights have proven to be excellent craftsmen who have saved, repaired and reinforced all the major timbers, giving us a piece of rural heritage that will grace our countryside well into the next century.

"The trustees are delighted with the result of this project and are deeply indebted to Historic England for their financial and technical assistance."

Tony Calladine, for Historic England, said: "The message is clear - our heritage needs to be saved and investing in heritage pays. It helps to transform the places where we live, work and visit, creating distinctive places to enjoy."

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