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Church where Charles Dickens worshipped set for £10,000 renovation

PUBLISHED: 15:43 04 April 2016 | UPDATED: 15:43 04 April 2016

St John the Evangelist Church is to undergo renovation work

St John the Evangelist Church is to undergo renovation work

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Funding has been secured to prevent rainwater from damaging the church's interior

A church where Charles Dickens worshipped will undergo over £10,000 of renovation work to protect it against rain damage.

St John the Evangelist Church, on Hermitage Road, Higham, is to have the roof of the North Aisle stripped and under-felted to prevent leaking rainwater from damaging internal decorations and roof timbers, and causing falls of ceiling plaster.

The popular church is used for daily services, as well as services and visits for local schools, concerts and exhibitions.

Charles Dickens is known to have attended St John’s, which was built in 1862, while in residence at his Gad’s Hill Place home.

As well as ensuring the building is a safer and more pleasant environment, the repair work will ensure the continued use of the children’s crèche, which is situated in the North Aisle.

Churchwarden Valerie Laurens explained that the roof problems began following earlier restoration work.

She told the Reporter: “The whole roof was re-tiled in 2003 with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. They insisted that everything be put back exactly as it had been before. This meant that we weren’t able to re-felt it and almost immediately we started having trouble,

“We tried lots of short-term measures but nothing worked, so we had to remove the tiles again.

“You can see the damage to the interior decorations. The roof is made up of points of plaster between the beams and the plaster has fallen through.”

Grants of £1,000 each have been awarded from Allchurches Trust and the Garfield Weston Foundation, while £2,500 is being provided by the National Churches Trust and £7,500 by Friends of Kent Churches.

“With that and our own fundraising we have put enough together to do the work,” Ms Laurens added.

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