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Urgent works needed to save important Lancashire church

The future of a Grade II*-listed church in East Lancashire now hangs in the balance after thieves stole all the lead from the roof, and a decision was made to close the church for worship.

St John's Church in Crawshawbooth is a major work by the celebrated Victorian architects, Paley, Austin and Paley. It was built in 1892 on a lavish scale and for many years the building and all its fittings were in an excellent state of preservation.

Now it is in desperate need of help; the recent lead thefts mean that for several weeks water has poured in through holes in the roof; there are large areas of flooding on the floor; the walls are saturated and mould has formed on the fine wooden furnishings.

The church, near Rawtenstall, is due to be declared formally redundant early in the New Year and it will then enter a waiting period while plans are formulated for its future. The Victorian Society is calling on the Diocese of Manchester not to allow the condition of the church to deteriorate any further.

'We would like to see further urgent repair work carried out while the future of St John's is being discussed,' said Edmund Harris, Churches Conservation Adviser for the Victorian Society. 'Declaring a church redundant when it is not fully secured against the elements is potentially very bad news. This is a nationally important church, known locally as 'the cathedral of the valley' and it deserves to have a place at the heart of the community.'

Mr Harris added: 'Saving this beautiful church will be expensive and will never be achieved unless a long term strategy in place. We are urging the Diocese of Manchester to engage in urgent discussions to secure the future of St John's. Without a viable use, its future looks very bleak.'

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Wednesday 14 December, 2011

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