All Saints Church in Mettingham facing closure due to lead theft

A VILLAGE church could be facing closure as it is unable to afford to replace lead that was stolen from its roof.

All Saints Church in Mettingham had lead taken shortly after a fund-raising summer fete and with a replacement bill of more than �16,000 on top of spiralling running costs, the church cannot afford to have the work done.

Now a meeting is to be held to discuss the Norman round-tower church with, potentially, its future in question. It will happen on the same evening as a similar meeting in nearby Walpole surrounding the future of St Mary's Church there.

The Rev Linda Jacquet, assistant priest to the Bungay Benefice, said: 'The theft of lead from the roof has been the last straw and left us seriously underfunded, so we now need to think seriously about the future.'

The lead was taken a week after a fete in June that had made �600 for the church, but churchwarden Gillian Evans said this figure 'looked like nothing' when they found that insurance would not cover the full �16,600 repair bill.

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The news came as a major blow to the Grade 1* listed church that was already struggling to cover the annual �10,000 upkeep costs.

The Rev Ian Byrne said: 'We have invested so much time and energy it is like being burgled, it's the same sort of emotions'

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He added: 'It has only been the dedication of a few that has kept it going as it is. The theft of lead from the roof has put a lot of pressure on and we are trying to find out the level of interest within the parish in keeping the church going as it is.'

The church serves the village of Mettingham, which has a population of about 150 people, but with small congregations, other than at special services, Mr Byrne said that he feared the meeting would have happened eventually, but that the lead being taken has accelerated the process.

He said: 'We need to find out how much interest there is in the local church. I appreciate that not everyone is a churchgoer but people like it for weddings, baptisms, funerals, Christmas and Easter.'

He added: 'If you want to support the church in this parish then come to this meeting as the level of support will make the future of the church.'

Mr Byrne, who is also responsible for Bungay and Barsham with Shipmeadow in the Bungay Benefice, said that the church, which dates back to around 1066, is a unique building with a fantastic heritage, and had benefitted from a significant amount of emotional investment from a small group of people, in particular churchwarden Marjorie Buck.

He added that in the last two years the church has benefitted from �105,000 of funding from English Heritage that helped to save the tower from falling away from the main body of the church and to be in this situation so soon afterwards was unbelievable.

During this work they even discovered a priest's room high up in the tower that they had not previously known about.

•The meeting is to be held at the Tally Ho tea rooms, on the B1062 at Mettingham, on Wednesday, February 29 at 7pm.

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