Raise the roof! Church lead replaced two years on from theft

Whaddon church roof before and after

Before and after: St Mary's Church roof is good as new after the lead theft two years ago - Credit: David Grech

Lead which was stripped from the roof of St Mary's Whaddon church has finally been replaced with stainless steel after two years of fundraising.

After  thieves stripped the entire roof of its lead, the 14th century, Grade-I listed church is once again watertight under a new roof.

Rather than replace the lead roof, the Parochial Church Council decided to install a new roof of terne-coated stainless steel that would be less vulnerable to future theft.

Obtaining permission for the change in roofing material and fundraising to cover the cost of the works took 18 months, and was made more difficult by the COVID pandemic.

But finally in February 2021 work was able to start on site and the new roof was complete by May.

The work was undertaken in two separate, but overlapping phases. Phase 1 involved re-roofing the north aisle, and Phase 2 comprised the roofs to the south aisle and nave.

The work on the north and south aisle roofs proceeded speedily and without any major unforeseen eventualities.

Unfortunately, when work commenced on the nave roof, significant rot was found in the main roof structure and the re-roofing had to be temporarily halted while a structural engineer determined what remedial works were required, obtained permission to carry out those works, and secured the necessary additional funding to pay for the structural repairs.

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A church spokesman said: "The community of Whaddon really came up trumps in providing this additional funding at very short notice, and the repairs were undertaken without further delay.

"The project would not have been possible without the generous financial assistance from the local community and a number of grant-giving bodies; the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund - as administered by Historic England - the Amey Community Fund, and the Cambridgeshire Historic Churches Trust.

"Members of the congregation at St Mary’s joined in the trust’s annual sponsored ‘Ride and Stride’ last September as part of the fundraising for the new roof. This event is also the Trust’s main source of fundraising."