Another Huntingdonshire church has been targeted by thieves, with thousands of pounds worth of lead stripped from the roof just days before Christmas.

Insurance assessors estimate that about £4,000 worth of lead was ripped from the roof above the nave and the two side aisles of St Swithin's Church, in Old Weston, on December 23.

About four tonnes of lead was taken in a single night and the holes left in the roof by the thieves allowed torrents of rain to soak the pews and the aisles.

Reverend Brenda Stewart, rector of Old Weston and six other village parishes, said: “I felt so desperately sorry for the small team who work so hard to keep this wonderful old church alive and available for the community.

“It is difficult enough without having to deal with the fall-out and huge cost of something like this.”

Rev Stewart said parishioners were having to make daily visits to the church to ensure water is cleared from the aisles and that plastic sheeting which is keeping the building watertight remains in place.

The theft comes just weeks after thousands of pounds worth of lead lining the entire north aisle and part of the south aisle at St Michael's Church, in Great Gidding, was stolen and a similar incident occurred at All Saints Church, in nearby Winwick, in which a large quantity of lead was taken.

Rev Stewart added: “I would like people who live near a church just to be aware and to keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary.

“This was an organised theft, they had a good look around and they came very prepared for this. It was an easy target because the nearest housing is a field's length away.”

Rev Stewart said that church parishioners would now be removing the remaining lead and would look to replace it with stainless steel, which is much less valuable than lead and looks very similar once treated.