Bats and roof repairs
Our church of St Leonard Billingford is 4 miles east of Diss and overlooks the picturesque Waveney Valley & Billingford Mill. It has served as a place of worship for more than 800 years.
We form part of the Redenhall with Scole Benefice. We are distinctive because our tower – which may never have been completed – is the same height as its nave. Despite its diminutive size, the art and architectural historian, Nikolaus Pevsner devoted more than half a page to our church in his guide on listed buildings.
In 2017 the Quinquennial inspection found part of the north roof was badly in need of retiling to prevent rainwater from getting in. Retile within 5 years was the architect’s recommendation!
Quotations were obtained and around £25,000 would be needed to carry out the work but, as with most rural churches, fundraising and grant aid would be required.
To complicate matters we have our very own bats so permission was needed from Natural England & Bat Conservation Trust before repairs could start. However, to do so they needed to know more about “our” bats, so surveys were required. These were completed with the help of local volunteers together with Suffolk Bat Group & Norwich Bat Group, for whose help we are very appreciative.
During this time we were organising fundraising and applying for grant aid. BUT then along came COVID which impacted fundraising activities.
We eventually received permission from Natural England to carry out the repairs albeit with restrictions, the work could only be carried out during April or the period 15th Sept-31st Oct, to avoid the bats breeding season or when they should be hibernating.
Due to the time taken to obtain the permission required in respect of the bats, and the restrictions on fundraising because of COVID, it was only late in 2021 that the funds needed to carry out these repairs were finally raised.
Repairs were completed by the end of October 2021 and we can now continue worshipping in our medieval Grade I Listed church, safe in the knowledge that the roof is much more secure.
This has now given us breathing space before embarking on the next round of repairs detailed in the Quinquennial Inspection report. These include removal of cement plaster and replacing it with lime plaster to combat dampness, both internal and external.
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