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Historic church near Milton Keynes is crumbling due to multiple lead thefts from roof

A Grade II* listed church has been in danger if closure after crooks stripped all the lead from its roof multiple times.

St Mary the Virgin in Great Brickhill was in danger of closure after multiple thefts of lead from its roof

(Photo: Other third party)

A Grade II* listed church has been in danger if closure after crooks stripped all the lead from its roof multiple times.

The ceiling St Mary the Virgin church in Great Brickhill is at risk of collapsing every time it rains, and buckets have to be put out to catch the leaks.

The series of devastating lead thefts happened between 2014 and 2016 and every piece of lead was stolen. A felt covering was put on the roof but this is now failing and the fabric of the church is at risk, said the National Churches Trust this week.

Without urgent action, the church, which has parts dating from the 13th century, may have to close its doors, they say.

But now the Trust has pledged support with a share of a £473,750 fund - which is being handed to 33 churches across the country - going towards helping pay for a new permanent covering of terne-coated steel.

A further £5,000 repair grant from the Wolfson Foundation and a £6,500 grant from the Headley Trust will help the church in its efforts to stay open and thrive.

The building is used not only by the congregation for worship, but also by village community groups and the local Church of England school.

If the roof is not repaired soon, then all of these activities – including church services – will have to stop, says the National Churches Trust.

Claire Walker, chief executive of the Trust, said: "I’m delighted that the National Churches Trust is able to support St Mary’s church to get funding for urgent roof repairs. This will safeguard unique local heritage and keep it open and in use for the benefit of local people.

“Whether seeking quiet reflection, access to community services or a place to worship, the National Churches Trust helps hundreds of churches each year and with the support of local people, keeps them thriving today and tomorrow.”

Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of the Wolfson Foundation said: "As well as being places of worship and buildings of beauty, churches sit at the heart of the community. In many ways they stand between the past and present. We are thrilled to continue our partnership with the National Churches Trust to support the preservation of these significant, much-loved historic buildings across the UK.”

Phillipa Cook, Great Brickhill PCC Secretary and Project Coordinator, said: “A number of ceiling panels are at risk of collapsing; one already having done so. Any delay with the work would result in further damage and increase the possibility of having to close the church and suspend all services and activities.

“We are delighted to receive the two grants. This will mean that we can proceed with the urgent roof repair, which was required due to the theft of all the lead.

“Having recently installed refreshment and toilet facilities, more use is being made of the church by the congregation, village community groups and local CofE primary school. Further use of our lovely building has had to be put on hold until the church is watertight.

"It will be wonderful not to have to put out buckets each time it rains!”


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