The Bishopsgate Bomb: Churches not insured against bombings: Church faces substantial losses

THE CHURCH of England is facing substantial losses over the repair of churches damaged in the City of London blast because it failed to insure them against terrorist attack.

Announcing that St Ethelburga-the-Virgin, the church obliterated by the explosion, was unlikely to be rebuilt, the Venerable George Cassidy, Archdeacon of London, said there was no doubt that insurance payments would not cover the damage.

Of the 39 churches in the City, 35 are insured collectively in a group scheme at a cost of pounds 205,000 for cover up to pounds 195m. It would have cost a further pounds 175,000 to insure against terrorism, which the churches chose not to pay. As a result, cover is limited to pounds 100,000 building damage and pounds 100,000 for contents.

The cost of rebuilding St Ethelburga's is not known but early estimates suggest that repairs to St Botolph's without Bishopsgate, which suffered damage to its roof and internal structure, will far exceed pounds 100,000. After last year's IRA bomb in the City, when six churches were damaged, insurance payments amounted to more than pounds 2m.

Repairs to All Hallows, in London Wall, are also expected to exceed the insured amount. Damage to St Michael and St Peter's, both in Cornhill, St Andrew Undershaft and St Helen Bishopsgate, are described as minor.

St Ethelburga's, a 13th-century Grade A listed building, had already been reduced to the status of a 'chapel of ease' and had no congregation of its own. It is unlikely that a replica will be built. It is more likely that the site will be cleared and sold.

A meeting of the City of London Corporation's engineers and district surveyors confirmed yesterday that the single wall remaining of St Ethelburga's would have to be demolished, along with Kansallis House, a seven-storey building at 76 Bishopsgate.

The corporation said it had identified 25 buildings that sustained heavy damage in Saturday's blast, including moved stonework and cracked structures. Thirty had suffered moderate damage and a further 100 had sustained broken glass and minor damage.

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