Lead snatch soaks church

WORSHIPPERS in Flax Bourton are facing a repair bill of thousands after thieves stripped the church roof of lead, causing water to pour through the building. Thieves climbed up onto the roof of St Michael and All Angels twice in one week and removed 12 le

WORSHIPPERS in Flax Bourton are facing a repair bill of thousands after thieves stripped the church roof of lead, causing water to pour through the building.Thieves climbed up onto the roof of St Michael and All Angels twice in one week and removed 12 lead panels from the north aisle roof, causing rainwater to flood into the church below.The water caused extensive damage to the walls and soaked the chairs and kneelers in the Saxon church, which dates back to 1040, with people around the village offering to take them home to dry them out.A local builder was also drafted in to make temporary repairs to the roof so services could continue as normal.Eagle-eyed neighbours alerted the police, when thieves came back for the second time, who gave chase along the A370 in patrol cars and using the force helicopter. The culprits, one of which has been charged and appeared before magistrates, were caught when they crashed their car in Nailsea.Churchwarden Brian Mayled said: "We discovered the first theft when one of our members went to the church and saw the water all across the floor."Everything was saturated where the gaps in the roof had let the water through and unfortunately it was a week when we had torrential rain. The water was filthy as it had taken a lot of dirt from the roof and the whole church was a real mess."Mr Mayled said whoever had stripped off the lead panels - which measure 12ft in length - must have been working as a team.He added: "They tried to roll the panels up and threw a number of them over the parapet and onto the ground below."Fortunately, people in the village rallied round, taking the soaked kneelers and chairs home to dry them out."Thanks to the kindness and help of villagers we managed to clean up and dry out the church and no services were affected," added Mr Mayled.Church leaders and the 30-strong congregation are now planning to consult with English Heritage about replacing the panels in the north aisle roof with a different material in a bid to thwart further thefts.


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