A 12th century village church blighted by repeated thefts of lead from its roof has been thrown a lifeline thanks to a £100,000 heritage grant.
St Swithun’s Church, in Bicker, was left with thousands of pounds worth of damage after thieves stripped much of the roof of its lead - leaving the interior exposed to the elements.
A group of locals at the Friends of St Swithun’s group has been working hard to fundraise for repairs to secure the Grade I-listed building’s future as a community hub. Events held in the village included a music concert, which raised £1,499.
In the meantime, Dr Martin Salisbury from the group, assisted by local farmer Patrick Benjamin, applied for a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) - and they were ‘overjoyed’ to hear they were successful last week - with £100,000 now set to be invested in the building to replace its roof.
Praising the NLHF on behalf of the Bicker community, Martin said: “We now have the opportunity to preserve the precious heritage of our church and promote it to the wider community.”
The new roof will be made out of terne-coated steel and will replace most of the current roof, including large sections where lead was stolen, along with some dilapidated areas and old joists.
We now have the opportunity to preserve the precious history of our churchDr Martin Salisbury
Martin said: “We appointed church architect Carl Andrews, who also looks after The Stump, to design the new terne-coated steel roof.”
They now plan to organise a programme of events at the church over a one-year project. The events are expected to include ‘time-line’ displays on the history of St Swithun’s, history talks, antiques and artefacts events, and a new website for the church featuring video tours.
Martin added: “We have now assembled a village team of 12 passionate volunteers to deliver our community project. Thank you NLHF.”