‘Everyone is totally shocked – and totally saddened – but mercifully no-one was killed or injured.’
That was the reaction of Reverend Charles Patrick as he surveyed the damaged caused by the collapsed tower at St John the Baptist Church in High Toynton near Horncastle.
Emergency crews rushed to the scene at 12.42pm last Sunday and search dogs were called amid concerns someone could have been buried under the rubble.
It was more than two hours before the ‘all clear’ was given – leaving stunned parishioners to inspect the damage.
The Rev Patrick, who is the rector of the Horncastle Group of Parishes, said: “It is terrible but it could have been so much worse.
“The church wasn’t in use and was locked so fortunately no-one was in the building.
“There were concerns someone might have been in the churchyard when the tower collapsed but that wasn’t the case.
“For that, we have to give grateful thanks.”
Rev Patrick was on the scene on Sunday and returned 24 hours later to meet parishioners and a specialist surveyor.
He said: “A lot of people will be deeply affected by this.
“The church is only used a few times a year but it is a special place at the very heart of the community.
“It’s used as a ’community centre’ and is much-loved.”
Rev Patrick confirmed the church would be shut for ‘the foreseeable future’ – largely on safety grounds and for repairs to be carried out.
He said: “It will be repaired but at this stage it is too early to say when, or how much it will cost.
“I want to assure people the church will re-open.”
Rev Patrick confirmed the building was ‘regularly monitored and inspected’ but there was no indication the tower was about to collapse.
He also said the building’s insurers had been informed.
Fund raising efforts have already started.
Robert Tomkinson, who has launched a Crowdfunding appeal, said: The church is the heart of village life – and the only community building left after the bus stop!
“It hosts church services and music nights throughout the year. “If you have any connection to High Toynton - we need your help!”
There has been a church on the site since the 13th century.
Click here to donate.