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'I thought a bomb had gone off': Priest has near miss after stone cross falls to church roof

PUBLISHED: 11:17 15 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:26 15 August 2019

Father Charles Fitzgerald-Lombard outside St Edmund's Church in Bungay and (inset) damage to the roof. PHOTO: Nick Butcher/Diocese of East Anglia

Father Charles Fitzgerald-Lombard outside St Edmund's Church in Bungay and (inset) damage to the roof. PHOTO: Nick Butcher/Diocese of East Anglia

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A priest had a narrow escape after violent winds caused a stone cross to fall onto the roof of his church while he was inside.

A stone cross fell to the roof of St Edmund's Church in Bungay, with Father Charles Fitzgerald-Lombard inside. PHOTO: Diocese of East AngliaA stone cross fell to the roof of St Edmund's Church in Bungay, with Father Charles Fitzgerald-Lombard inside. PHOTO: Diocese of East Anglia

Father Charles Fitzgerald-Lombard was unharmed after the ordeal, but said the consequences could have been "catastrophic" if the cross smashed hrough the roof at St Edmund's Catholic Church, in St Mary's Street, Bungay.

The brief storm, which lasted around half-an-hour, blew the stone finial cross from the roof at the north-west end of the church.

After falling around 10 metres to the sacristy roof, the cross then broke apart, bouncing onto another part of the same roof.

A large number of clay tiles were damaged as a result.

A stone cross fell to the roof of St Edmund's Church in Bungay, with Father Charles Fitzgerald-Lombard inside. PHOTO: Diocese of East AngliaA stone cross fell to the roof of St Edmund's Church in Bungay, with Father Charles Fitzgerald-Lombard inside. PHOTO: Diocese of East Anglia

Bungay parish priest Fr Fitzgerald-Lombard said: "There was a terrific storm and gusts of wind at about 10am and it blew a stone cross off at one end of the church.

"It fell onto the roof and smashed a lot of tiles.

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"We were very fortunate because it could have been catastrophic.

"It missed me because I was inside at the time, but I thought a bomb had gone off.

"It was the loudest noise I have ever heard, and it all happened quite quickly. I didn't know whether to dive under the table."

The church is insured for storm damage, brokered by the Diocese of East Anglia, with a loss-adjuster visiting the site on Thursday morning. Church officials are now waiting for quotations to be made, with work hoped to get under way as quickly as possible.

The inside ceiling of the sacristy appears to have avoided damage, while only slight damage was reported on one of the church's Victorian stained-glass windows.

Fr Fitzgerald-Lombard said: "There is rainwater dripping through in one or two places but it fortunately missed the stained glass window.

"In all, I would estimate that more than 100 tiles were broken and the wooden sub-structure and felt lining of the roof was damaged in at least two places. Some guttering was also broken off.

"It is too big to put tarp over the roof, so there is rainwater coming in whether we like it or not."

The church remains open as usual with services unaffected.

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