Church roofs: replacement of lead following theft

Whilst the theft of lead from church roofs is often considered to be a recent phenomenon, some of the greatest losses occurred as a consequence of the Reformation, either through its removal by the monarch’s officials, local landowners and villagers during the suppression of the religious houses, or as in Wells Cathedral, where it was removed and sold by the Chapter itself to compensate for the loss of income following the abolition of chantries.

The relative ease of its removal and subsequent sale for recycling presents an opportunity to present-day thieves and although changes have been made in the secular legislation, churches continue to be faced with the problems of replacing stolen roofing material.  Insurance payments for replacement are generally capped at quite a low level, and in some cases an insurer has refused to make any payment where scaffolding has assisted thieves’ access to the roof. Continue reading