Hope among the ashes as Ecclesiastical plans restoration of fire-ravaged church

22 December 2020

The rebuilding of an historic Derbyshire church devastated by fire will be long and complex but it will be restored, says Ecclesiastical Insurance.

A blaze swept through All Saints Church in Mackworth, Derbyshire late on Thursday 3 December, destroying the roof, and causing widespread damage to the structure and interior of the Grade 1 listed building.

Ecclesiastical Insurance’s specialist loss adjusters were on site the morning after the fire, offering reassurance to the vicar and other churchgoers, as well as making the 700-year-old church safe and secure for investigations to take place.

Working closely with Derbyshire Constabulary and Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service, forensic investigators have inspected the premises to help establish the cause of the fire and to evaluate the scale of damage.

Further inspections have taken place since, with claims teams visiting last week and drone technology used to assist structural engineers with the initial assessment of the structure.

The specialist insurer confirmed the property is insured for £11 million and is now working with its partners on a roadmap for restoration on what will be a long and complex project.

Jeremy Trott, Claims Director at Ecclesiastical, visited the site to see the devastation for himself.

He said: “It’s heartbreaking to see this beautiful historic building in ashes but we know from experience that we can rebuild this church so it can once more be at the heart of the Mackworth community.

“It will be a complex project because of the age of the church, its listed status and the rich history of the local surrounds which, along with the site, have scheduled monument status. This means accessing site will be a challenge and we will need to be careful not to damage the ground when using heavy machinery to help clear and restore the site.

“This is the moment of truth for our customers, who are relying on our expert advice and our support to help them through these difficult times. We’ll be actively involved throughout, including helping the customer build a team of specialists to make sure the restoration is successful.”

Ecclesiastical’s unrivalled expertise in protecting communities, properties and the nation’s heritage for 130 years has helped them to restore other historic churches damaged as a result of fires.

In 2017 the Church of the Ascension in Salford, Greater Manchester was the victim of an arson attack which caused significant damaged columns, roof structures, stone and brickwork and stained glass windows.

The first phase of the project to restore the historic Church of the Ascension in Greater Manchester has been completed, helping to bring a much-loved community hub back to life.

Michael Angell, Church Operations Director at Ecclesiastical, said: “It’s terrible to see a church devastated in such a way, but I am reassured by the experience and skills we have at our disposal that we can work to restore the church to its former glory.

“We have a huge amount of expertise in working with churches and we understand the complex nature of a restoration of this scale.

“We’ve done it before - so that’s the key message on day one, to give the community that reassurance that we can get the work done in a way that preserves as much of the history of the church as possible.”

Jacqueline Stober, Priest in charge, Kirk Langley, Mackworth, Mugginton with Kedleston, said: “The outpouring of love and support we have had since the fire has genuinely been astonishing.

“A church touches so many people, not just through regular Sunday services, but by being the place that holds people's memories of those important times in their lives: baptism, marriages funerals.”