Lancaster: Stop The Rot

Church of St John the Evangelist, Lancaster, Lancashire

The Church of St John the Evangelist in Lancaster is rotting from the inside out. Soon, this historic building could be beyond help.


Built in 1754 to serve the expanding population of Lancaster, this beautiful building once reflected a time of thriving industry and booming prosperity. Inside, light from the sumptuous Victorian stained glass windows falls on gleaming polished wood, galleried aisles, and smartly numbered box pews. But now this Grade II* listed church faces an urgent threat.

Dry rot is spreading through the structure, leaving devastation in its wake. Roof timbers are wet, the plaster ceiling is falling, and the rotting window frames can no longer support the weight of their glass. At risk of collapse, one is already boarded up, and others are about to follow. In response to the danger, Historic England have raised St John's to category A on the Heritage at Risk register, making it Lancaster's most significant heritage asset under threat.

Structural works on the church have tackled the problem of dry rot time and again, but the years have not been kind to St John’s. In 2015, Storm Desmond swept across the North of England, causing the River Lune in Lancaster to burst its banks and leaving the church of St John flooded with 20 inches of muddy brown water.

The church was painstakingly cleaned and dried out following the floods, but further outbreaks of dry rot caused by a leaking roof, open joints in masonry, and clogged gutters have begun to cause serious and rapid deterioration. 

A programme of emergency works is now well underway, in order to hold back the spread of this fungal attack.  This will buy the building some time, but it won’t solve the problem: to fully eradicate the dry rot, we need to repair the roofs, tower and windows.  This will cost in the region of £450,000, which we will try to raise through grant aid, local fundraising, and crucially, public donations from supporters like you!  

Will you help us to combat the rot and save this historic Lancaster landmark?