Historic chapel is taken off ‘at risk’ register after fundraising push

The congregation chapel at Roxton has been saved. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

The congregation chapel at Roxton has been saved. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

A “delightful” chapel near St Neots is one of the success stories in a register of threatened historic buildings from across the region which have been saved - and those which have been found to be at risk.

The Congregational Chapel at Roxton was suffering from water damage to its thatched roof and had rotting structural timberwork, but a community campaign led to the award of funding for repairs and the building has now been taken off Historic England's Heritage at Risk Register.

There are nearly 400 entries on the region's 2019 register - 106 Grade I or II buildings or structures, 106 places of worship, 122 archaeological sites, eight parks and gardens and 49 conservation areas.

The new register shows that 39 sites have been removed, including the chapel at Roxton, but 42 have been added to the list because of concern over their condition and the church of St Mary the Virgin in Gamlingay is one of them.

Over the last year Historic England spent just over £1.6million in grants towards the restoration of some of the region's best-loved and most important historic sites.

The Grade II listed Congregational Chapel at Roxton was built in 1808 in the "Cottage Ornee" style with a thatched roof and plastered walls. But the roof was deteriorating, with evidence of water damage, and there were rotting structural timbers at the eastern end of the building.

Church trustees launched a community action plan which led to the award of a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant in 2018. This enabled the roof to be re-thatched and repaired, meaning the building could be taken off the at risk register.

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But the news was not as good for St Mary's at Gamlingay which has been added to the register as a result of damage caused by the theft of lead from its roof.

The church, which has a Grade I listing, dates back to the 13th century and underwent extensive rebuilding in both the 14th and 15th centuries. Its present interior survives from 1880 when St Mary's was refurbished.

The theft of lead from the roof has allowed major water penetration from above and below and, like the Roxton chapel, strong community involvement has led to a National Lottery Heritage Fund bid being developed.

Tony Calladine, regional director for Historic England, said: "The message is clear - our heritage needs to be saved and investing in heritage pays. It helps to transform the places where we live, work and visit, creating successful and distinctive places for us and for future generations to enjoy. But there's more work to do.

"There are buildings still on the Heritage at Risk Register that are ideal for rescue and capable of being brought back into meaningful use and generating an income, contributing to the local community and economy. These are the homes, shops, offices and cultural venues of the future.

"Historic England's experience shows that with the right partners, imaginative thinking and robust business planning, we can be confident in finding creative solutions for these complex sites."