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Rural church faces bill of thousands to replace stolen roof lead

PUBLISHED: 19:30 22 October 2019

All Saints church at Hartest  Picture: BRIDGET WELLER-POLEY

All Saints church at Hartest Picture: BRIDGET WELLER-POLEY

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All Saints church in Suffolk is facing a hefty repair bill after thieves stripped lead worth £20,000 from its roof.

Rev Patrick Prigg, rector of All Saints church at Hartest  Picture: PATRICK PRIGGRev Patrick Prigg, rector of All Saints church at Hartest Picture: PATRICK PRIGG

A rural church in Suffolk is facing a hefty repair bill after thieves stripped lead worth £20,000 from its roof.

All Saints Church at Hartest will need to raise thousands of pounds to replace the roof on its south aisle after the thieves struck some time between between Monday 14 and Wednesday 16 October.

Rector of All Saints the Reverend Patrick Prigg said locals had rallied round to secure the church, parts of which date back to the 14th century, since the theft but the cost of replacing the stolen lead would be a challenge for its small congregation.

"Because we weren't able to afford alarms our insurance is capped at £7,500, so we will have to find the remainder ourselves," he said.

"It's going to be quite a challenge, we have only just replaced the bells and that was over £10,000.

"Everybody here is very angry that the church has been attacked in this way, but if it has demonstrated the worst in people it has also shown people at their best - one parishioner came and put a tarpaulin over the south aisle roof to protect inside on the day he was supposed to go on holiday."

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Rev Prigg said he would be speaking to the diocesan advisory committee to see if the lead could be replaced with man-made materials, although a decision could take up to six months.

"The one good thing is that the roof is not visible from ground level so it would not affect the look of the church if we were to use man-made materials, which would be about half the cost of new lead," he said.

"But it's still going to be a huge challenge. We are a congregation of about 30 people attending two services a month, so it is going to take some time."

Fundraising is already set to get underway with a concert at the church on November 23 by local folk group The Emergers.

In 2015 the East Anglian Daily Times and its Norfolk sister paper the Eastern Daily Press launched a campaign to help historic churches across the region being plagued by lead theft.

With the help of other organisations including the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, and Tim Passmore, Suffolk's police and crime commissioner, a £26,000 reward was put up to encourage people with information to contact police and bring culprits to justice.

Anyone who would like to donate towards the roof appeal can contact Rev Prigg on 01787 282164.

Anyone with knowledge of the lead theft is asked to contact Suffolk police quoting crime reference 37/63077/19

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