Yorkshire heritage expert backs Bill Bryson's warning over effect of harsh weather on churches

York Minster. Credit: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images
York Minster. Credit: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images
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Harsh weather linked to climate change will leave hundreds of English churches at risk of destruction or closure this winter, it has been claimed.

Author and activist Bill Bryson has reportedly warned over the effect harsh weather has on the country's churches - and has been supported by the surveyor emeritus of York Minster, Richard Carr-Archer.

There are 900 churches registered on Historic England's "at risk" list.

Conservationists say they need support to prevent and repair damage caused by rain, wind, snow and ice, with heritage experts warning many are being ravaged especially severely because of climate change.

Mr Bryson, vice-president of the National Churches Trust (NCT) has told The Times newspaper it was England's "national responsibility" to protect England's historic places of worship.

The NCT received a record 593 applications from churches for maintenance and repair grants last year.

This year, the figure has leapt by another 37 percent, the paper said.

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"Nothing embodies a quintessential Christmas like a historic church in the snow," Bryson said.

"But winter is when these ancient and often fragile buildings are most at risk of serious damage from snow, ice, wind and rain. Historic churches are Britain's wonders of the world, yet they are more at risk from winter weather than people realise.

"I urge the British public to help protect historic churches ... The winter would be bleak indeed without them."

Mr Carr-Archer, who is also a trustee of the NCT, said: "The impact of climate change is seeing wetter and windier winter weather.

"Higher levels of rainfall, with more cycles of wetting and drying, cause damage to timber and stonework [and] stronger winds and more frequent storms threaten roofs, towers and spires."