Archdeacon to give fundraising boost

A CONGREGATION hoping to raise �200,000 for urgent repairs to their church will be rallied into action tonight, Tuesday March 17, with a visit from one of the region's most senior clergymen.

THE congregation At Wangford's parish church is hoping to raise �200,000 for urgent repairs to the building - and received a rallying call to the challenge on Tuesday from one of the region's most senior clergymen.

The lead on the roof of St Peter and St Paul's Church is thought to be more than 100 years old and now leaks are starting to cause damage to the building's historical decorations.

The Archdeacon of Suffolk, the Ven Geoffrey Arrand, held a meeting with parishioners to give an update on the state of the roof and give their on-going fundraising campaign an extra push.

Steven Smith, the church's fabric officer, said: “The most important repair is replacement of the lead roof over the north aisle. This section has a lead covering which is thought to be possibly over 100 years old.

“It has been patch repaired in the past, but that has now failed. Expert advisors agree that the roof needs to be replaced. Water has been penetrating into the building and is causing damage to the fabric.

“Water poured into the church during a recent Sunday service, causing considerable damage and concern.”

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Mr Smith said that the leaks have already damaged some of the building's historical decorations, including a memorial lectern to Admiral Henry Rous, and caused timber flooring to rot.

Other necessary repairs include replacing the heating system, repairing windows and making health and safety improvements to the tower.

Mr Smith said that about �200,000 would be needed to complete all the work. “The work is to be done in stages and the most important repair is to stop water entering the building. The cost of the roof has been estimated at about �40,000. Wangford villagers have been working hard to raise funds and to date nearly �30,000 has been collected,” he said.

The church is built on the remains of a Cluniac priory and there has been continuous worship on the site for more than 800 years. The building was extensively restored during the 1860s, when the crenellated tower was installed.

The church team plans to make a grant application to English Heritage later this year in the hope that some money will be made available by December. Investigation works can then start and it is hoped that actual repairs will begin between September 2010 and January 2011.