Part of St Thomas a Becket Church in Lewes in danger of collapse

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Part of an historic Lewes church is in danger of collapsing.

Restoration work at St Thomas à Becket, in Cliffe High Street, has revealed problems far more serious than was first thought, with stonework needing specialist attention.

When the stonemason removed the rendering to the worst-affected areas of the church interior last week the true nature of the damage was revealed.

Work needs to be done immediately to prevent a section of the nave from crashing down.

Now the church is appealing for urgent help in the shape of contributions towards the restoration, which will take up to a month to complete.

People who can offer support should visit the church website at www.st-thomas-lewes.org.uk for details of how to make a bank payment. St Thomas’ Treasurer Imogen Stewart said all donations would be gratefully received and about £20,000 is needed. The last repairs to the building were made more than 20 years ago, and time has taken its toll on the ancient structure, which is one of the oldest churches in Lewes and stands at the heart of the Cliffe community.

Services are continuing as normal, but as a result of the crisis the church has been closed to visitors for safety reasons.

Built as a chapel for Cliffe in South Malling parish, the dedication to St Thomas à Becket reveals the link to Canterbury through Malling Deanery, and suggests the chapel was founded in the late 12th century. Evidence shows the church had at least one aisle in the 13th century, and the chancel may keep the dimensions and even some walls of its possible 12th century predecessor.