VITAL roof repairs to a treasured 12th century church near Moreton are set to finally be carried out after £16,000 was awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The roof of St Lawrence Church, in Barton-on-the- Heath, is in a state of collapse and urgently needs its rafters replaced along with a set of new stone roof tiles.

Slates are slipping, allowing water to leak into the Grade II-listed building, which is on the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.

But thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which will pay for an initial inspection and a report into the work needed to restore the roof, the development phase of the project can now begin.

The first phase is expected to last about a year and will see plans drawn up and costed, and detailed proposals will be made to improve the church’s facilities.

A further £200,000 has been earmarked by the Heritage Lottery Fund to help complete the project in the second year.

Church warden Hamish Cathie said the work is vital to the future of the church.

“If it’s not done either this year or next, we will be facing major problems,” he said.

“It’s been like it for two years. If it’s not done the roof will collapse and we’re then facing not a couple of hundred thousand pounds, more like half a million minimum.

“It’s a big job in our benefice.

We have seven churches and this is, by far, the biggest thing that has been done since the Heritage Lottery Fund was set up.”

As well as the repairs, there are also plans to build a new disabled toilet and a display about the church’s history.

The remaining funding for the project, which is expected to cost £280,000 in total, will come from recovered VAT, charitable grants and local fundraising.

David Brown, church member and parochial church council treasurer, said: “We could never have done it without the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund. We are very pleased.”

Barton-on-the-Heath and its church would have been known to William Shakespeare, whose cousins lived there.