A CHURCH dating back to the 12th century has won thousands of pounds in Lottery funding for much-needed restorative works.

The St Mary’s Church at Over Silton, near Thirsk, has remained largely unchanged for many centuries but is in desperate need of repair.

The church has room for around 50 people and does not have electricity.

The National Lottery has now awarded around £28,000 to the Siltons Parochial Church Council, which looks after the site, to go towards major work.

An assessment revealed the church needs a new roof and reconstruction of supporting boundary walls.

It is expected that the funding will also pay for a contractor to recreate the correct limestone mortar, as it is feared that the modern-day equivalent could damage the current stonework.

John Inch, churchwarden of Saint Mary’s Church, said: “We are delighted with the support we have received from the Heritage Lottery Fund. With their help, we’ll be able to ensure our wonderful church remains open for everyone to enjoy for many years to come.

“St Mary’s is for everybody to visit and enjoy, from the residents of Over Silton and surrounding villages to walkers who are exploring this quiet and beautiful corner of the North York Moors National Park.”

A spokesperson for the restoration project said: “Saint Mary’s is still a very important part of the community and regular services, as well as christenings, weddings and funerals are held there.

“However, it exerts a fascination over many people from far outside the parish, thanks not only to the unique character of the church building itself, but also to the churchyard, which hosts a flourishing display of wild daffodils and bluebells every Spring.”

The church has become popular with visitors from across the globe, the church council said they had recently welcomed visitors from Japan, Australia and the US.