Blickling church to host new escape game to help pay for £50,000 worth of damage caused by lead thieves

PUBLISHED: 17:36 08 August 2017 | UPDATED: 08:42 10 August 2017

History Mystery managing director Alasdair Willett briefing a team during game testing inside Blickling Church. Photo: Alasdair Willett

History Mystery managing director Alasdair Willett briefing a team during game testing inside Blickling Church. Photo: Alasdair Willett


A church which had thousands of pounds worth of lead stripped from its roof is attempting a world-first to help pay for its repair.

Blickling Church. Photo: Alasdair WillettBlickling Church. Photo: Alasdair Willett

Thieves targeted St Andrew’s Church in Blickling back in October 2016, causing £50,000 worth of damage to the Grade II* Listed building.

But because the church did not have an alarm fitted, its insurance only paid out £7,500.

Now, in order to cover the cost of having a new roof, it is hosting the world’s first escape game to be held in a working church.

Called “The Queenmaker” players will be tasked with solving puzzles and challenges based on the story of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII.

And it all takes place within the parish church where the king’s second wife once worshipped.

The event, which is being launched this Saturday (August 12) is a joint venture from History Mystery and the Diocese of Norwich.

Alasdair Willett, managing director of History Mystery, said: “Anne’s fate is a well-told story, but Blickling church is a unique place to bring to life a part of her story that is not so often a focus - Anne and Henry’s love.

“We have designed the game to run throughout the whole church, but in a way that the church remains fully open to visitors too, which is something that has never been done before.”

The game’s objective is to see the couple to the altar, solving puzzles and challenges to get them there before the time runs out.

Revd Canon Andrew Beane, team rector of the Aylsham and District team of churches, said St Andrew’s had to look at “creative ways” to raise money for the roof’s repair.

He added that the church has also been chosen to receive funding from the new Roof Alarm Scheme, which is being backed by the Eastern Daily Press.

“The alarm will mean that if any lead is stolen in the future, we will get 100pc insurance value.”

Speaking about the theft, he said: “It was very demoralising for the community. Earlier that year we had part of the roof repaired, and then a few months later the lead was ripped off.”

The Rev Beane said it could be another year before the roof is replaced.

He added the church was considering asking the local authority for permission to replace it with stainless steel rather than lead.

Games last one hour and will initially be run from 10am to 7.30pm at weekends.

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Roof Alarm Scheme

The Roof Alarm Scheme has been launched to try and raise money to fund the installation of alarm systems at some of the most vulnerable of the county’s 650 or so churches.

The scheme, which is spearheaded by Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner (PCC) who has pledged £100,000, and supported by the Bishop of Norwich, who has put up £50,000, and other church groups, has already received £250,000.

This will help boost security at about 50 churches but it is hoped the public can help raise a further £300,000 for alarms to be fitted at several other churches in the county.

It is also being backed by this newspaper as part of our own Stop The Roof Raiders campaign. So far, £812.50 has been raised through donations.

Churches across Norfolk have been suffering from a sustained spate of lead thefts with, on average, three to five buildings targeted every month.

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