For one Yorkshire congregation the wettest year on record has literally seen water running down the inside of their church “like Niagara”.
During the past seven months there have been no weddings or funerals at St Wilfrid’s Church, Halton, Leeds, which has been shrouded in a plastic canopy and a forest of scaffolding poles for work to the vast flat roof.
The congregation has been packing into the one area of the Grade 11 church where there isn’t any work going on, the Lady Chapel.
But it has been wet going.
“We are stuck in the east end where nothing is protected,” said Rev Darren Moore, “There’s no canopy over the Lady Chapel. It feels like it’s open to the elements.
“It is quite impressive when it really is raining - it’s like Niagara. Something had to be done otherwise it would have just crumbled away.”
St Wilfrid’s is among 17 of Yorkshire’s finest churches, whose future was a little more secure yesterday after an announcement that they were to share £1.8m of Lottery funding for urgent structural repairs.
St Wilfrid’s, designed by the celebrated Arts and Crafts architect Arthur Randall Wells, is getting the largest grant regionally - £222,000 - towards works which will eventually cost close on £1m.
Rev Moore said: “In 1937 it was cutting edge, but of course concrete and asbestos hasn’t weathered terribly well.”
The grants from Heritage Lottery Funding, administered by English Heritage, will pay for repairs to roofs, walls and towers to churches throughout the region.
Among those to get help is St Mary’s Church, Little Driffield, East Yorkshire, the reputed burial place of King Aelfred of Northumberland, and one of the oldest churches in the East Riding.
Antiquarians dug in the chancel for the remains of the King, slain in battle at Ebberston, Scarborough, in 1784 and again in the early 19th century but found nothing.
The £62,000 they have been given will help them deal with a crack in the tower, and stonework in the parapet, as well damp and decay in the south wall.
Churchwarden Roger Gooch said: “The church tower has developed a crack which we have temporarily braced so it can’t fall down and hurt anyone, but it is not a long term solution, so we have to properly repair this, so it’s not going to be a problem into the future.
“We need £120,000 in total so we now need to start fundraising.”
The Church of the Epiphany at Gipton will also receive £188,000 to complete roofing.