Residents of Helperby and Brafferton are invited to a public meeting in the Village Hall, Brafferton at 6.00pm on Thursday 5th December to explore responses to the theft of most of the lead roof covering from the Grade 2* listed 16th century Parish Church of St Peter.

Thieves struck on the night of the 21st/22nd November and stripped the lead covering from most of the nave roof, exposing the wooden roof structure, and resulting in serious damage beneath due to heavy rainfall pouring through the joints in the boarding.

The theft is one of a wave of similar crimes across the country prompted by a world-wide surge in scrap metal prices; losses of sheet lead from over 20 historic churches in the Diocese of York alone have reached approximately £2.5 million in 2019.

St Peter's building had only recently been restored as part of a programme of restoration and improvement supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The meeting on the 5th December will be led by Priest-in-Charge of the Benefices of Alne and Brafferton the Revd Deborah Coyne, with Archdeacon of York Sam Rushton.

Information will be shared about the actual damage done to the roof itself and to other items affected by water ingress, the insurance situation, short-term measures to protect the building, and longer-term plans for its restoration and future protection.

Temporary roof coverings are now in place and St Peter's is open for worship and for visitors.

The Revd Deborah Coyne said, "This has been a heartbreaking blow for Helperby and Brafferton; St Peter's is a much-loved building in the village and the surrounding area, whether people are regular worshippers or not, and the theft of the roof covering is a devastating blow to all of us.

"We're supporting the police in their work to discover who did this, and we're committed, where possible, to keeping St Peter's open to all as the heart of the communities it's served for so long - but we are unable to do this entirely on our own.

"I hope that everyone with a heart for St Peter's will come to the meeting on Thursday to hear exactly what's happened, what's being done, and how we can all help to secure the future of our beautiful church."


  • Sheet lead has traditionally been used as a durable and waterproof cladding for timber-framed roofs of ancient buildings. In spite of its weight and strength, lead sheet is sufficiently flexible to be well-suited to covering uneven, irregular or complex shapes such as are often found on historic structures. Removal of the lead sheeting usually exposes wooden framework beneath which is not waterproof, and may then fail to protect historic artifacts in the building.
  • Go to guidance for what to do in the event of church lead theft