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Victoria Prentis, MP for North Oxfordshire, visited St Mary’s Church in Banbury this Tuesday. She was met by Associate Minister Revd Jeff West and Churchwarden Camilla Finlay, who drew to her attention the critical condition of the church’s roof.

She learnt from Jeff and Camilla that having started a roof repair project funded by a central government repair grant, they discovered the timber roof structure to be in a dangerous state, riddled with deep decay and dry rot.

Churchwarden Camilla Finlay made clear that they had been very fortunate to have started a repair project and uncovered the decay, as there was a very real risk of a catastrophic collapse within the church.  However it means that the funds already raised for the works are now not enough.

The decayed roof timbers are directly above the church organ. To protect the instrument, it has been dismantled and moved to the aisle of the church and there are growing concerns about the condition of other roofs.

Victoria, very concerned by the situation she saw, commented “St Mary’s Church is the iconic building in Banbury, and a huge part of the town’s history. This is a moment of crisis and I hope that the town will pull together to help the church with it.

“With costs mounting every week, including scaffolding costs of over £1000 a week, the eventual end cost of the project is unclear. It is vital that as much money is raised as possible before the beginning of June, to ensure that the roof coverings and organ can be reinstated this summer”

Camilla Finlay, Churchwarden, said “An emergency appeal has been launched for an additional £60,000 to complete the essential work to stabilise the roof structure and protect the organ. We really need the support of the local community at this time.”

Reverend West commented “St Mary’s is Banbury’s only Grade 1 listed building and is included on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register. We need the support of the community to enable St Mary’s to continue to serve the people of Banbury.”