The last few weeks have been full of ups and downs and we are always sad to hear that any of our churches have been a target of crime, so to have had calls from five of our churches within the last few weeks to say that they have lost their lead roofs through theft has been extremely shocking.
This is devastating for the church and the local community who often spend months fund raising to replace it.
First there is the initial shock that the roof has been stolen and the need to make the police aware of the situation, followed by the realisation that there is an urgency to provide a temporary cover over the missing roof to make it watertight and to protect the remaining fabric of the building, keeping further repairs to a minimum.
Where to go and what to do? You will want to contact your insurance company and your diocese to make them aware of what has happened. Following that a good place to start will usually be with your architect – you will often find that architects will have contacts to get something done fast – which is important with our ‘great British weather’ as the last thing you want is soaked fabric or even worse damage to the inside of your church building.
Then there is the question about what to replace the roof with and what will be acceptable to both the diocese (through discussions and the faculty process) and the insurance company. Do you replace like for like and risk the same thing happening again – or do you have a change of material – all of which has to be carefully considered.
One important point to remember, even with insurance, this usually doesn’t cover the full cost of the replacement, in fact insurance company pay-outs are often capped at quite a low level, making this an even bigger problem for the church.
There is a very good publication from Historic England ‘Metal Theft from Historic Buildings’ which can be downloaded with advice on what to do and with some very useful resources.
There is also a good article on the ‘Law and Religion’ website by David Pocklington, who talks about roof replacement following lead theft.