A HISTORIC church has been targeted by “despicable chancers” who stole lead worth thousands of pounds from its roof.

The roof over the vestry at St John the Baptist Church in Blake Place, Bridgwater, is now leaking in several places thanks to scrap metal thieves.

Builders brought a skylift to enable them to carry out repairs to the church and the Rev Geraldine Kirk, vicar of St John's Church, went up to get a better view of the full extent of the damage.

She said: “They are just despicable chancers. They just want to make easy money. I don't think people care if it's from a hotel or a church. They just want easy money.”

This isn't the first time St John's Church has been targeted by scrap metal thieves. Lead has been stolen from the roof before and even stolen from inside the church itself.

Built originally in 1846, St John's Church was one of the first churches built under the Oxford movement, a 19th century movement which sought to re-introduce a greater Catholic influence into the Anglican Church.

The church is a Grade II Listed building so if the congregation wants to replace the lead with something else that wouldn't be targeted, she would need to get permission to do so first.

The Rev Kirk said: “We are thinking of a non-lead based solution in the future because it drives me up the wall trying to keep this place safe.”

PC Ed Woolmington, investigating officer, said: “This theft has left the church facing thousands of pounds of repairs.

“We are carrying out a number of enquiries and are appealing for anyone with information on this theft to come forward. We have a zero tolerance approach to scrap metal theft and are working hard to target offenders.

“Recent legislation has constricted the market for thieves, making it harder for them to sell stolen metal and easier for us to trace.”

If you can help this investigation, please call PC Ed Woolmington via the 24-hour Police Enquiry Centre on 101.