Race to repair church ceiling before bat colony returns

File picture of a soprano pipistrelle bat, like the ones which have been roosting at St Peter's Chur

File picture of a soprano pipistrelle bat, like the ones which have been roosting at St Peter's Church, Spixworth. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2013

A church is facing a race against time to finish repairs to a damaged ceiling before a colony of bats return in the spring.

Picture of damage from roof in St Peter's Church, Spixworth. PIC: Supplied by Sarah Reynolds.

Picture of damage from roof in St Peter's Church, Spixworth. PIC: Supplied by Sarah Reynolds. - Credit: Archant

St Peter’s Church in Spixworth is currently closed and needs to raise a total of £25,550 towards repairs to a damaged church ceiling.

Work is due to start on the ceiling after Christmas but church leaders are concerned that if the project is not completed by April, when the colony of about 400 soprano pipistrelle bats return, then the church will have to remain closed until September next year when they leave.

Sarah Reynolds, treasurer, said: “We were first aware of small cracks appearing over the altar and screen between the chancel and nave in September 2019 but these were not deemed to be worth further investigation at the time.

“During the first lockdown Sheelah Cook, churchwarden, obtained permission to cover the pews with a plastic covering to prevent staining from our bats.

File picture of visitors enjoying a previous snowbell walk at St Peter's Church, Spixworth. Photo by

File picture of visitors enjoying a previous snowbell walk at St Peter's Church, Spixworth. Photo by Simon Finlay - Credit: Archant Norfolk


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“She noticed the crack had opened and plaster had fallen onto the altar. During the summer further plaster fell but we were unable to enter the church until permission was obtained from Bat Conservation Trust.”

In August, following a meeting with the Bat Conservation Trust advisor to inspect the damage, it was agreed a further inspection of the ceiling could take place once the bats had left the church.

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A detailed inspection of the roof carried out at the end of October revealed it would cost more than £25,000 to repair.

Mrs Reynolds said the church was currently closed as the “ceiling is considered a health and safety risk”.

She said builders had agreed to start the work after Christmas and hoped to finish the project before the bats returned in April, “if not, the church will have to remain closed until September 2021 when the bats leave the roost”.

Mrs Reynolds said the congregation was currently meeting at Horsham St Faith church but admitted this was not ideal for the Spixworth community.

She has urged the public to support an appeal for help towards funding the cost of repairs to the roof of the Grade I listed church, which was built in about 1160.

Anyone who might be able to help should call Sarah Reynolds on 01603 891236.

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