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Last Updated: Monday, 21 April, 2003, 09:53 GMT 10:53 UK
Bats roost in building work
Pipistrelle bat
Up to 150 bats roost in the church
A colony of bats returning to its summertime roost in a Monmouthshire church have settled down among builders carrying out repairs on the roof.

The rare bats' presence forced churchwardens to put work on the roof on hold until they had left for the winter last year, although they hoped to finish before the bats came back.

But unexpected problems have meant the builders are still on site at St Cadog's Church in Llangattock Lingoed near Abergavenny as the bats start settling back in.

It also means churchgoers will be holding their Easter celebrations away from their parish church.

This is the second major festival the church will have missed celebrating.

At Christmas, worshippers took the unusual step of holding a service in the pub next door after the landlady offered the premises as a venue.

Churchwarden Dr Jean Prosser said the bats did not seem to be disturbed by the presence of the builders.

"With the warm weather, they are beginning to come.

"They latest lot have come in right under the builders," she said.

St Cadog's
The church's roof has been completely removed
"We have finished the top tower so they can get in there and rest but they are also staying in among the builders.

"The nave roof is off completely and the builders are re-making the trusses, all 25 of them."

The bat colony of about 150 animals includes a quantity of lesser horseshoe bats, an endangered species rarely seen in the British Isles

Like other species, they leave their summer roost to find caves, mines or cellars where they can hibernate through the winter months before re-appearing in the spring.

According to Dr Prosser, the work on the church will take about another five months to complete.

"We found long-term problems as the church got stripped down and we had to have another lot of grants which fortunately both CADW and the lottery funded," she explained.

For Easter celebrations, the churchgoers had to choose between services at nearby Grosmont, Skenfrith or Llanfair.

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