Defenders of the faith: keeping watch at Ayot St Lawrence
8th October 2019
Ann Wight from Ayot St Lawrence writes about her experience sleeping overnight in the Palladian Church to deter lead thieves, along with members of her book club.
When lead was stolen from part of the roof of the Palladian Church in Ayot St Lawrence, there was concern the thieves would return for more during the month-long wait for an alarm to be installed. But community spirit flourished, and intrepid villagers and friends of the church quickly rallied round, volunteering to keep watch. A rota was arranged of people who would sleep overnight in the church, ready to call the police should another theft be attempted.
Whilst sleeping in a church – particularly one at which there was a known risk of thieves appearing – would not be everyone’s cup of tea, some made the most of the opportunity to do something different. One villager did her shift: when she mentioned her night “champing” to her book club, some members were very keen to tick “sleeping overnight in a church” off their bucket list (while hopefully avoiding adding “being attacked by lead-stealing thieves” to their lifetime achievements) and requested a booking too!
So a couple of nights later, they arrived at the church – “I have a reservation, please can someone show me to my room”, announced one – and after setting up their camp beds in the aisle, they adjourned to the Brocket Arms for some fortifying food and drink. Suitably filled with fish and chips, gin and Dutch courage, they returned to the church, donned pyjamas, and enjoyed some hot chocolate and cupcakes along with a bedtime ghost story (well, Funnybones by Janet & Allan Ahlberg, usually read to five year olds) and much scary story-swapping. Just before nodding off, they checked their self defence weapon – a very tall pepper grinder as used by some Italian restaurants – and their supply of freshly baked cupcakes, just in case raiders might be tempted by these rather than the lead.
Thankfully a peaceful night ensued, with no thieves, ghosts or other undesirables appearing; just the very quiet and peaceful atmosphere of the church, and an occasional baaaa from the sheep outside. An evening to remember: and now that the alarm and cameras have been installed, the church continues to be well protected – by technology rather than teddy bears!
For advice on church roof security please contact our Buildings Team
Further advice is available in our article Take action to protect your roof (at the bottom of the page)