Repairs begin to Aysgarth church roof after lead theft

Aysgarth Church.

By Pip Land

Work has started on repairing the roof of St Andrew’s Church at Aysgarth two years after lead was stolen from it.

The repairs will cost £115,830 and the church is still trying to raise the full amount.  Once it has, it will then face a hefty bill to repair the considerable damage caused by having a leaky roof for so long.

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Two lots of temporary covers were placed on the roof but neither proved capable of keeping  the rain out.

Neil Piper, who is in charge of the project, commented: “At times the walls have been streaming and the pews have been wet but it hasn’t stopped people coming to church. There were funerals with buckets catching the drips and a flower festival where flowers watered themselves from the roof. As a sprinkler system it was very efficient.

“There is a damp and musty atmosphere, books in the vestry have pages stuck together and cards for sale have sealed their own envelopes. The walls, of course, are a mess, particularly in the Lady Chapel, and they will need to dry out completely before being redecorated. Interior restoration may well be the subject of another project.”

The church was promised a grant from the government’s Listed Places of Worship fund but none of that could be released until the Diocese of Leeds gave approval (a faculty) for the work to go ahead, and that wasn’t until November last year.

Then the plans and specifications could be drawn up and by February the church could order the approved slates for the job, only to be told that these would not be delivered until June 5. The stolen lead will be replaced with zinc.

The Vicar, the Rev Lynn Purvis-Lee, said: “We are indebted to Neil for his resilience and patience in dealing with the bureaucracy that historical buildings regulations and faculties bring.”

As part of the  church’s fundraising activities there will a gala concert by the internationally renowned pianist, Martin Roscoe, at St Andrew’s, at 7.30pm on Saturday July 1. The programme will include music by Beethoven, Liszt, Schumann and Schubert.

Tickets cost £15 (£13 if bought in advance) – contact Joan Foster at 01969 663368 or the Penhill Benefice office at 01969 663097. Tickets include “Meet the Artist” with drinks and nibbles after the performance.