AN HISTORIC church has been saved from closure thanks to two grants worth more than £200,000.

Grade II-listed St Margaret of Antioch, in Hollinwood, was in need of urgent roof repairs and had been marked on Historic England’s “Heritage at Risk” register.

But Christmas has come early for the parish church after a confirmed grant of £193,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the roof restoration project.

Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the project aims to see the church building become finally watertight and help towards its goal of becoming a fit-for-purpose church and community building, that seeks to open its doors to the community and beyond.

The news followed a separate grant of £7,000 from National Churches Trust funding to help carry out the vital restoration works.

Fr David Hawthorn, parish priest, said: “We’re delighted that we’ve received this support thanks to National Lottery players and supporters of National Churches Trust.

“The ongoing restoration of St Margaret’s Church is allowing the realisation of the overall smhART Vision and Initiative to move a step nearer, and the work of the past 138 years will continue and it’s great to know that we are a step closer to preserving this beautiful building for another 100 and more years!

“In addition to the substantial grants mentioned, I must say how much we are indebted to the ongoing valiant efforts of all who fundraise at S. Margaret’s and within the community towards the restoration – huge thanks to all involved.”

The project will involve re-roofing and insulating the south pitch of the nave roof and the south aisle roof, together with repairs to the overall structure which is affected by dry and wet rot.

Masonry repairs will also be carried out to the south nave clerestory.

The work forms part of a multi-phase project for the church, which was in a perilous condition.

It is hoped that, on completion of this latest phase, the building will be removed from the ‘Heritage at Risk’ register.

The project also to create a dedicated, permanent exhibition space within the church.

An explanatory guide will be produced, which will present the heritage of the church and also its links to local history while a young people’s guide and quiz will also be produced allowing work with schools.

The church will be looking to recruit and train volunteers in research and as church guides so they can be a part of this exciting project and encourage others to be a part of the project also.

Journalist and broadcaster Huw Edwards, who is Vice-President of the National Churches Trust, said: “At the heart of communities in cities, towns and villages, churches are a treasure trove of architecture, history and faith.

“I’m delighted that St Margaret of Antioch is to be saved for the future with the help of a Trust repair grant.

“This will help ensure that this historic church, which is extensively used for worship and community activities, remains open and at the service of the Hollinwood community.”

The first church on this site was completed in 1769 but it was demolished in 1877 as it had become too small for the growing Hollinwood population, and the woodwork had become so rotten it was determined cheaper to build a new church.

The foundation stone for the new church was laid in Easter 1878 though it was not completed until 1882. A large tower was added in 1904.

The church has been working on a programme of restoration for the past 15 years, and during this time we have carried out a number of significant works which help secure the long-term future of the building. including restoring the tower, repairs and re-roofing of parts of the church building.

Today, the church is used for worship, as well as for concerts, educational, school and heritage visits, open days, art exhibitions, productions and more.