Church of Stratford St Mary targeted as lead thieves strike again

The stripped-back roof of Stratford St Mary Church after it was targeted by lead thieves.

The stripped-back roof of Stratford St Mary Church after it was targeted by lead thieves. - Credit: Contributed

A church community is counting the cost after thieves stole a substantial amount of lead from the roof – despite villagers keeping vigils after being alerted something was untoward.

Rev Rosalind Paul

Rev Rosalind Paul

The Church of Stratford St Mary, near Colchester, is the latest to be targeted by lead thieves, with St Mary’s Church in Combs, near Stowmarket, and Lavenham St Peter and St Paul Church also affected in recent weeks.

The rector of Stratford St Mary, the Reverend Rosalind Paul, said it was discovered lead from the roof of the south aisle had been stripped the Thursday before last, but not taken, and they believe the same culprits came back on Thursday to finish the job.

In total 34 bays of lead have been taken –including from the roof of the nave – which is thought to cost at least £25,000 to £35,000 to replace.

The cleric said after the damage to the roof more than a week ago villagers had kept vigils over five nights to protect their church, but on Thursday neighbours were away.

She said: “The village response has been amazing so far. Everyone has mucked in to help the church when the lead was stripped the week before and lots of the village people stayed in the church all night and kept watch, but unfortunately the thieves must have been watching.

“They came on the one night when all the people in the houses around that could have seen something were away.”

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She added: “It’s very frightening to think one was being watched in that way.”

She said insurance would only cover about £7,000 of the damage. “It’s not a wealthy church and it’s very difficult to think how we can get the money we need,” she added.

She said members of the community had given generous donations towards the fundraising appeal at the harvest service.

To support the appeal to repair the damage to the roof of the medieval church email

Suffolk police confirmed no arrests have yet been made. Anyone with any information should call 101.

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