Thieves have struck at a 900-year-old Old Sodbury church in the middle of the night.

The roof of St John's Church is lined with lead, which the raiders stripped through the night of Monday, October 29.

Parishioners have since been mopping up water in the pews from recent rain, while the damaged roof gets temporary repairs.

Rector of the church Reverend Canon David Bowers said: "It would appear that the thieves threw the rolls of stolen roof lead from the roof into the graveyard before taking them away," he said.

"Our church, which has served the community of Old Sodbury for many centuries, is a listed building and, as such, any repair works are specialist and very expensive.

"The roof was recently expensively renovated and this theft comes at a time when we are about to launch an appeal for urgent works to the bell tower."

The appeal has been started after it was confirmed that the church would not receive enough insurance money to complete the replacement.

"Our insurance can only cover some of the cost of new lead, not the greater cost of laying it," Mr Bowers said.

"This alone is a heavy burden for the congregation and so we are launching an appeal to fund the tower work and the urgent roof repairs.

"We are determined that none of our services over the forthcoming busy Christmas period will be adversely affected."

The church is locked every evening and re-opened every morning.

The roof had recently been completely renovated, with work finishing earlier this year.

A company has since been in to put up temporary membrane roofing, with the hope that the community can gather funds to replace it.

The church have also announced that about 150 squared metres will need to be replaced at an expected cost of around £50,000.