Churches violated as thieves strip three tons of lead from one roof

Stripped. The roof at Aswarby church. EMN-161115-102128001
Stripped. The roof at Aswarby church. EMN-161115-102128001

Churches in the Sleaford area are counting the cost of a week of metal thefts that saw an estimated three tons of lead stripped from just one roof.

Church leaders are reeling at the repair bills after a gang of thieves ripped sheets of lead from the north aisle roof of Aswarby Church on Friday night while parishioners were away at a fundraising event at Belton Park Golf Club to supplement a Lottery funding bid to repair the rest of the roof and the damaged spire.

Surveying the damage. A view of the damage from Aswarby church tower EMN-161115-102146001

Surveying the damage. A view of the damage from Aswarby church tower EMN-161115-102146001

Hougham Church was targeted the same night and last Tuesday night St Helen’s Church in Brant Broughton was hit in the same way, losing most of its north aisle roof.

Aswarby church warden Martin Green said: “It is devastating. We have had to clear up so much damage. It rained heavily on Saturday morning and there was as much inside as outside. All the carpeting and pews on the north side got soaking wet and I have been in with a Vax and extracted maybe 20 gallons of water.”

He estimated it could cost £15-30,000 to repair the roof, while the rough scrap value of the three tons of lead stolen is about £2,500.

According to CCTV, thieves in two vans, possibly Mercedes Sprinters, parked up outside the village, moving in between 3-4am to load up the lead, damaging stonework in the process. Anyone with information should contact police on 101 quoting incident 99 of 12/11/16.

Parish priest Rev Nick Munday said two of his other churches at Newton and Walcot were targeted a few months ago.

He said: “All our churches are listed buildings and they are sacred. Our church has been violated.”

The Rev Alison Healey of Brant Broughton said her church warden discovered their theft when opening up for workmen. She said: “She saw chunks of stone had fallen down and looked up to see most of the north aisle roof had been taken.”

She added: “It has been sheeted over for now, which is all we can do.”

Already faced with repairs to the church bells and lead stolen from the vestry, they see the bill running into tens of thousands.

She said: “It is just heartbreaking for parishioners.”

Call police on 101 quoting incident 80 of November 10.