THE ANCIENT BUT VIBRANT Okewood Church near Ockley has been granted Â£84,000 for repairs to its 13th Century building at the crossroads of woodland footpaths.
The money will help fund repairs to the spire and tower of the beautiful Grade II* listed building which began life as a chapel of ease for those travelling the byways to Wotton Church almost 800 years ago.
Work will also be undertaken to conserve medieval wall paintings and historic stained glass as well as improving guttering and rainwater disposal.
The grant has been awarded by the Repair Grants for Places of Worship scheme, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and administered by English Heritage, which formed part of a Â£1.8million package to listed churches across the South East.
St John the Baptist churchwarden Tony Godby said: â€œWe are so pleased that English Heritage has agreed to make public lottery funds available to help us maintain this historically significant building.
â€œOften described as a hidden gem in the woods of Okewood, St Johnâ€™s is at the very heart of worship in the parish, with services every Sunday and effective childrenâ€™s Christian teaching on the same site.
â€œThough the grants from EH will inevitably commit us to significant fundraising to cover the whole cost of necessary works â€“ it goes a long way towards helping us to meet our stewardship obligations in preserving this ancient building for future generations of worshippersâ€.
In June, the Repair Grants for Places of Worship scheme will be superseded by HLFâ€™s new Â£30million, UK-wide Grants for Places of Worship programme.
This new initiative will continue to prioritise urgent structural repairs but will also enable applicants to apply for funding to support new works - such as the provision of toilets and kitchens - to improve the functionality of these buildings and make them fit for the future.
For more information on Okewood Church which also has a former Sunday school building perfect for away days click here.