Lead thieves have caused tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage to a historic medieval church, after their actions exposed the interior of the building to stormy weather.
A large section of the roof of St Mary’s Church in Preston-on-Stour was plundered at some point on Thursday 13 February or Friday 14th February, but the damage wasn’t discovered until the Saturday, after heavy rainfall.
As a consequence, water soaked the church organ, damaged electrics and a number of other items within the building.
Thanks to support from the Alscot Estate, a temporary section of roofing was put in place over the weekend, but that will need to be replaced by something more permanent in the near future.
Church warden Phil Grellier, said: “We only discovered the damage on Saturday and everything inside was very wet. It’s probably about a 18-20 metre section of roof that went and our 200-year-old organ was soaked through, we’re most likely going to have to take it out and see if it can be saved, but these instruments are very sensitive.
“The electrics were not working when we came in either because they got damp. The price of scrap lead is only about a £1 a kilo so they’d probably only make a couple of thousand pounds, but they’ve caused tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage.
“Criminals might think there’s a rich landowner who will pay for this, but in reality it is the ordinary churchgoers. I’ve lived in the village for 20 years and been churchwarden for seven and to see something like this happen is just heart-breaking. This building is not just a place of worship, it’s got a lovely atmosphere and it’s a place enjoyed by the whole community, not just those who attend services.”
If you have any information about the incident call police on 101 quoting the crime reference number WK20200215-0168.
It is not the first time churches in the district have been targeted for their lead, in autumn 2018 there were a string of incidents at churches in Willoughby, Newbold and an attempted theft in Wootton Wawen.
Stratford’s historic Halls Croft property has also been damaged in the past by lead thieves.