Keswick’s oldest building is having a new roof installed thanks to a “gobsmacking” £170,000 fund-raising community campaign.
The current Crosthwaite Church building dates back to 1523 and work is now under way on providing a new slate roof to replace its leaky old one.
“It is important we safeguard our local heritage and show the church as being part of an active community today,” said the Reverend Andy Murphie, vicar at Crosthwaite Church.
“It is quite a unique building, not only the oldest in Keswick but also on the site of the birthplace of Christinaity in this particular area.
“There has been a church on this site since 553 AD when St Kentigern would have come over the hills and placed his cross on the clearance between the two lakes – Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite.
“It is super historic. For 1,500 years, people have been saying their prayers on that spot and there are many generations of Keswickians buried there.
“The church is a symbol of hope and we hope that continues to be the case,” he added.
The five-year fund-raising campaign to finance the roof renewal featured a long list of events, including musical concerts and Christmas fairs at Lyzzick Hall Hotel as well as individual efforts, such as Christmas cakes, lunches and greeting card sales.
There was also a sponsor-a-slate initiative, while sales of local author Betty Walker’s book on the history of Crosthwaite contributed.
Andy has only been at the church for two years since the Rev Stuart Penny’s departure.
Linda Tee, who has just stood down as a church warden, played a key role in the long-running fund-raising campaign. Andy added: “I knew there was a problem (with the roof) when water dripped on my head during a service soon after I arrived!”
The whole roof is being stripped off and a waterproof membrane installed while copper nails, which have been holding the slates in place for the last 120 years, are being replaced.
Old slates that can’t be reused will be replaced.
Andy said: “I am delighted we have the money in the bank before lockdown. It is great to be able to get started on this week. It is a bit of a gobsmacking amount and provides some good news after all the trouble with lockdown and coronavirus.
“There has been a lot of hard work by a lot of people with a lot of generosity. We’ve had personal donations, individual fund-raising and grants.
“It is a joy and a relief to see the work started. It gives us a lot of hope in these uncertain times.”
The re-roofing work is being carried out by Keswick-based Sharp Edge Construction and is due to be completed by the end of February, weather permitting.
The church will remain open for services when allowed to under coronavirus rules. It is temporarily not open for private prayer although it is hoped this will change before Christmas.