A 13th-century church in Buckinghamshire that was left on the verge of 'collapse' by multiple thefts and flooding has been saved by a generous grant from an anonymous donor.

St Mary the Virgin Church in Great Brickhill dates back to the 1200s and has been a Grade-II listed building on Historic England's register since 1996.

The protected structure has weathered its fair share of troubles over the last few years, however, including multiple thefts ridding it of its entire lead roof between 2014 and 2016.

With only a temporary felt covering in place in the near-decade since, St Mary's has been driven to the brink of collapse by heavy rainfall, with water buckets placed around the church to collect the downpour and a risk of damage to its interior accompanying every bad weather spell.

(Image: Philippa Cook)

Because of financial constraints preventing the installation of a replacement steel roof, the church has been forced to cease all operations - including congregational services as well as its use by community groups and the local Church of England school.

Luckily, as it nears its most precarious state yet, the church has been saved from ruin by a hefty grant of £30,580 from the National Churches Trust, made possible by a £500,000 donation to the charity by an anonymous donor last year.

(Image: Philippa Cook)

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St Mary's is one of 18 churches in the UK receiving a percentage of the trust's total £1 million payout for structures in need of "urgent" repair and the money will fund full reconstruction work to its roof and ceiling.

The village church's last extensive refurbishment was a complete roof replacement in 2007 with a price tag of £350,000 - work that was sadly undone by the series of thefts that followed. 

Philippa Cook, secretary and project coordinator of the Great Brickhill Parochial Church Council, said the grant had come just in time to restore St Mary's to its former glory and ensure it is made "watertight".

(Image: Philippa Cook)

She said: "A number of ceiling panels are at risk of collapsing, and one has already done so. Each time it has rained during this incredibly wet period, further damage has been caused to the ceiling panels and the walls.

"Any delay in replacing the temporary covering of felt with terne-coated steel would have increased the possibility of having to close the church and suspend all services and activities.

(Image: Philippa Cook)

"This award means that we will not only be able to install the permanent roof covering but also repair the internal damage. The church will then be returned to the state that the community worked so hard to achieve back in 2007."

Claire Walker, chief executive of the National Churches Trust, also described St Mary's as the "beating heart" of Great Brickhill, adding that the money would help to safeguard a piece of "unique local heritage" and keep St Mary's "thriving" for the benefit of local people.