St. Martin’s Church, Kingsbury Episcopi, a rural church on the edge of the South Somerset Levels has been awarded a much needed £12,500 by Historic England from the Covid-19 Emergency Response Cultural Recovery Fund. The money is to go towards the cost of replacing the lead roofing of the Lady Chapel, which was stolen by thieves in February.
The church, a Grade 1 listed place of worship, was added this year to the Heritage at Risk register after the theft of a substantial amount of lead from the roof left the church structure vulnerable to further structural deterioration; especially the Lady Chapel ceiling with its medieval elements. The subsequent Covid-19 lockdown also adversely impacted the ability of St. Martin’s PCC to co-ordinate repair works. The roof repair is now expected to be completed by the end of November. This award plus match funding will cover the cost of replacing the lead on the Lady Chapel.
It is estimated that the second project to replace the North aisle roof with terne coated steel will cost an additional £35,000. PCC members are now begining to raise ‘match funding’ for this project, with a view to secure grant funding from other bodies next year.
Church Warden, Kathryn Marson, said: “This award is great news. The damage to our church, a well used and well loved local landmark, was very upsetting for the whole community. It is a blessing to be able to repair the Lady Chapel before the winter weather could cause further damage.”
St Martin’s church was built mainly in the fourteenth and fifteen centuries, it received substantial restoration in the nineteenth century and was noted by Pevsner for its glorious light. It is visible for miles across West Moor on the Somerset Levels, with it’s elaborate and lofty 3 stage Hamstone tower. It is an active place of worship for the village, and when covid restrictions allow it will be open to the public for Sunday worship and private prayer every week, welcoming back parishioners and visitors.