Daventry village church twice hit by metal thieves saved from closure thanks to £210,000 grant

St Peter and St Paul's Church in Watford
St Peter and St Paul's Church in Watford

A £210,000 grant has saved a Daventry village church that was twice targeted by thieves.

St Peter and St Paul's Church in Watford was threatened with closure as a result of damage caused by lead and copper being stolen from the roof and chancel of the 14th Century, Grade I listed building.

The Heritage Lottery Fund, who had already awarded a development grant of £13,000 to investigate what repairs were required, has now agreed to provide the money for the work.

Linda Ariss, Watford's church repair and restoration project lead and fundraiser, said: "We are indebted to Heritage Lottery Fund for the grant, made possible by National Lottery players, to help save our church as a small village of 85 houses and no pub or shop, we felt the monies to be raised would be impossible.

"This could have meant that the church may have to close, however, the community has rallied in support and are well on the way to raising the shortfall for the project via local events and other grant requests."

The project aims to repair the badly damaged chancel and nave roofs with a steel-based alternative to make the church wind and weather tight.

Work could start in January 2019 with completion expected in September. The project also aims to encourage people to engage with the history associated with the church via a website, a range of leaflets, exhibitions about its history and offer educational visits for schools and community groups.

The church has historical connections that date to William the Conqueror and is also linked to the Pilgrim Fathers, whose 400th anniversary is in 2020.

"Thirty-five million people can now claim ancestral lineage from them, that’s twelve per cent of the American population," Mrs Ariss explained.

Thomas Rogers, a pilgrim on the America-bound Mayflower ship, and his wife Alice Cosgrove were from Watford village families.

"The church has connections with Watford village going back almost 1,000 years and it’s great to know that we are a step closer to preserving it for future generations, and increasing awareness of its rich historical connections, particularly the Pilgrim Fathers as we approach their 400th Anniversary," said Reverend Graham Collingridge.

“We’re delighted that we’ve received this support thanks to National Lottery players."

Jonathan Platt, head of HLF East Midlands, said: “Historic places of worship like St Peter and St Paul’s have fascinating stories to tell, and are often at the heart of local communities.

"Thanks to National Lottery players’ we can help to address the church’s urgent conservation needs and share its heritage widely."