Northamptonshire village church could close after being targeted by copper thieves

Tarpaulin has been draped over parts of All Saints Church to mitigate water damage
Tarpaulin has been draped over parts of All Saints Church to mitigate water damage

A village church in Northamptonshire is in danger of permanently closing as it struggles to cover repair costs incurred by a theft of copper from its roof earlier this summer.

Sergeant Sam Dobbs, who is an organist at All Saints Church in Norton, said the group had been told that the church council had petitioned the Bishop of Northampton to stop All Saints from practising.

The church requires significant repairs that would take a number of years as a result of the copper theft in June, which saw a large quantity of metal stolen and considerable damage caused.

The estimated cost to replace the roof's copper and repair the water damage is thought to be in the region of £160,000, or £100,000 if the church chooses to use steel instead of copper.

"But that's £99,000 too much," said Sergeant Dobbs.

"We are handed these buildings to pass on to the next generation; that church has been standing for 500, 600 years.

"My view is that this generation has failed that building and I think it's a travesty."

Northamptonshire churches have been consistently targeted by thieves of late with nine offences in the last year alone.

The feeling among the community in Norton is a willingness to fundraise enough money to cover the cost of the repairs and keep the place of worship open.

Patrick Farrell, the church secretary, said: "As a result of the robbery they supported a village meeting that was attended by around 60 people.

"They wanted to have a bash a getting a roof back on the church and having some time to do that.

"The bishop has been petitioned to consider ending services at the church.

"He would consider the closure but would not do that without consulting the community and it's down to them to say if it has a future."

A felt roof has been put in place and has been able to keep some of the rainwater at bay; Mr Farrell added he was hopeful All Saints would accommodate a christening planned for this weekend.