Roofs at Risk: Church of John the Baptist, Inglesham, an ancient painted wonder saved by William Morris

To mark the anniversary of William Morris’ death, 127 years ago, we are focusing this month’s Roofs at Risk blog on the impact he had on CCT’s church in Inglesham and the crime the roof has been subject to in its recent history.

"We are only trustees for those that come after us"

-              William Morris, 1896

As a Socialist, innovative textile designer, writer and craftsman William Morris was a revolutionary figure of the Victorian era. His association with the Arts & Crafts Movement has been widely documented and Morris was an equally influential early building conservationist.

From 1871, Morris rented the rural retreat of Kelmscott Manor, which is four miles from the Church of St John the Baptist, Inglesham.

It is recorded that in 1876 Morris visited the church and was appalled by the restoration work carried out by his former employer George Edward Street. Due to proximity of the church to Kelsmcott he campaigned to save St John the Baptist from unsympathetic restorations. By 1877, Morris co-founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) in response to the work of Victorian architects whose enthusiasm for harmful restoration caused irreparable damage.

From his letters we can see that Morris arranged a survey of the church and employed J.T. Micklethwaite to oversee the repairs to the roof. Morris also helped to save the 13th century marble floor slabs, wall paintings ranging from the 13th to 19th centuries, and 17th to 18th century box pews. Making Morris responsible for the churches original medieval identity that can still be seen and studied today.

In 2017 the church suffered a devastating theft of lead roofing. Within 24 hours of discovering the loss, CCT had put a temporary roof covering in place to protect the decorative interior of the church. At a later date the North and South aisle roofs were covered with three layers of mineral felt at a cost of £8,700 thanks to two generous private donations. The roof now has a ten-year maximum lifespan.

In the near future, this church will need two new aisle roofs , estimated to cost in the region of £432,000. So that the interior of the church suffers no water damage it is vital that we start work as soon as possible to permanently repair the roof. CCT now needs your help to save one of our most beautiful, loved and historically significant churches.

By donating towards this year’s Annual Appeal, you will contribute to our emergency and planned roof repair and projects and help save fascinating buildings such as St John the Baptist. To donate today please go to or call us on 0800 206 1463.