ONE of Croydon's oldest buildings must find about £40,000 for roof repairs, after a lead theft revealed dry rot had set in.
The rot in the northern side of the roof at St Mary's Church, in Addington, was discovered by builders repairing damage caused by lead thieves.
The Reverend Jeanne Males says work to repair the rot must start immediately, or the Grade I listed building could be forced to close.
However, she remains confident of reaching the target.
Ms Males said: "We have a continuing fundraising team because we have had to raise money for the other work on the roof last year, and we have a fundraising committee that organises events.
"This Saturday, for example, we have a male voice choir. We have all sorts of events, and we never want to take the fun out of fundraising."
Ms Males said she would not know the exact cost of the work until it was over, adding: "I think I knew it would cost a lot. We will get there."
She said the congregation is "absolutely determined" to keep using the church, in Addington Village Road, despite the northern aisle being closed off.
A planned wedding between parishioners went ahead two weeks ago.
Ms Males said: "The numbers on Sundays have not changed. It would be a shame if people were not coming to church because they were concerned about the scaffolding.
"The wedding was really successful. The bride said to me, 'If you want me to have my photo taken holding a hard hat underneath the scaffolding, I will'."
Dating back to the 11th century, St Mary's Church is thought to be the oldest building in Croydon that has been in continuous public use and it was the place of worship for six Archbishops of Canterbury.
"It is one of the hidden elements of Croydon's history," Ms Males said.
She said the "best estimate" was that work might be finished by late summer, adding: "We talk about pieces of string and how long they are when we talk about it."
The churchwarden-elect, Sue Tanner, said: "They are starting from the back and working their way forward, and we are just hoping that as they come forward, they will find less and less [rot]."
Any donations for the timber repairs should be addressed to: The Treasurer, St Mary's Parish Office, Addington Village Road, Croydon, CR0 5AS.
Cheques payable to St Mary BV Addington (Fabric Fund).