Cash grant to protect ‘wonderful’ listed church from thieves

PUBLISHED: 06:33 04 March 2018

St Peter's Church, Portishead

St Peter's Church, Portishead

Archant

A grant of £1,000 has been handed to a Portishead church as it seeks to battle against thieves targeting its resources.

St Peter’s Church, in Church Road North, is almost 700 years old but its heritage makes it vulnerable to people looking to steal to make a quick profit.

Over the past five years, lead has been taken from the roof three times.

Three years ago it cost the church £5,000 to make the necessary repairs.

Similarly, last year, thieves stole £20 worth of lead, but it cost a four-figure sum to restore the grade-I listed church’s roof.

Stripping lead from church roofs has become a common occurrence with St Andrew’s in Cheddar targeted in December, plus Kingston Seymour’s All Saints’ Church falling victim last summer.

The £1,000 grant from Somerset Churches Trust (SCT) will enable St Peter’s to protect its roof with an intruder alarm.

The scheme was launched by the trust last month and it hopes the initiative will make a big difference.

However, while the grant is useful, it is not enough to cover the whole cost.

John Neate, who is a member of the St Peter’s Parochial Church Council’s buildings action group, said the money will be helpful but some community support will be necessary.

He added: “We are grateful for the grant from SCT but it will only cover about a third of the installation cost of the system.

“The remainder and the operating cost of several hundred pounds a year is money which the parish can ill-afford.

“It will have to come from the congregation and will take away from giving to the core mission of the church”.

SCT is promising to help 30 churches and chapels across Somerset and its initiative is being funded by Allchurches Trust.

Dr Axel Palmer, SCT’s chairman, is urging other churches in need of support to come forward.

He said: “This is an important scheme as these attacks are crimes against our rich national heritage of wonderful religious buildings.

“We have already had a good number of applications but we would like to hear from any 
other church or chapel that 
would like to apply.”

Application forms can be downloaded at www.somerset
churchestrust.org and emailed to somersetchurches trust@gmail.com or posted to Anthony Sutcliffe, Ditcheat Hill Farmhouse, Ditcheat, Somerset, BA4 6TL.

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