THE future of St Mary’s Church in Alton Barnes is looking bright now it has received support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Alton Barnes Saxon Church project aims to safeguard the Grade I listed building by carrying out urgent repair work to the roof and walls and conserving the timber floor, panelling and memorials.

The fundraising committee has been given £19,900 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help get the project moving.

The money from the first round of funding will be used for investigative tests to gauge the level of rot in the timber and water damage to the walls, as well as paying for architectural drawings.

The fundraising committee has up to two years to submit full proposals to compete for the full grant of £181,000.

Michael Balston, chairman of the fundraising group, said: “We’re delighted and relieved that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support.

“After 1,000 years the building sorely needs attention to keep it weather-tight. We hope we can ensure that it will remain at the heart of the community for centuries to come.”

The grant will enable research into the origins and history of the building with help from Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society and volunteers. Research and conservation programmes will be introduced to help conserve the church and a range of tours and lectures will be offered to visitors.

Nerys Watts, head of HLF South West, said: “With HLF’s grant, the history and architecture of the church will be conserved and opened up to a wider audience.”