A block of ice crashed through the ceiling of Brentwood Cathedral during a Sunday service.
Father James MacKay was leading the Eucharist Prayer on Sunday, 1 July when the chunk of ice fell through the roof.
Fr James Mackay said: “I was in the middle of the Eucharistic Prayer when there was a massive crash like an explosion. It was unbelievably loud.”
He could see slates falling from the roof through the window but, somewhat shaken, he continued with the prayer and the Mass.
Later an usher passed him a note to say that a block of ice had fallen onto the west side of the Cathedral, (pictured) breaking through the slate roofing and a timber roof batten.
Fr James added: “Fortunately, no one was hurt.”
Parishioner Dr Graham Hillman realised immediately what had happened: “There was a tremendous bang and through the principal west window I could see showers of what looked like ice falling. I recalled a lady in Doddinghurst whose outside loo had been completely demolished by an ice block and thought thank goodness no one was out there as they would have been killed.”
Although ice blocks have been known to form and fall spontaneously, the fact that the Cathedral is under a flight path makes it probable that the block fell from an aeroplane.
Repairs have been undertaken through an insurance claim but bad weather meant that the roof leaked and the ceiling became stained.
Chris James from the Diocesan Property Office estimates that the cost of repairs could be as much as £1,000.
He said: “The broken slates have already been replaced and waterproofed but we needed to hire a cherry picker to access that part of the roof and the internal redecoration of the ceiling has still to be done.
“The block hit a timber maintenance walkway in the roof. If it had struck a few feet to one side, it might well have brought the ceiling down.”
The building, near Brentwood High Street, is the newest cathedral in England and was built between 1989 and 1991.