A HISTORIC church has received crucial funding to help it plan key conservation and improvement works.

St Mary’s Church, Westonzoyland, has been awarded a £37,000 development grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund which will enable the church council to complete its project plans and gain diocesan approval so an application for a full grant can be put forward early next year.

The Rev Chris Keys, vicar of St Mary’s, said: “We are excited that the Heritage Lottery Fund is giving us support.

“St Mary’s is an important historical building and its preservation and continuance as the centre of the village life is something we can pass on to future generations.”

The project aims to carry out essential conservation work to the nave roof – which has been described as the most elaborate tie-beam type roof in the country – and internal walls to make the church as welcoming as possible to visitors.

Plans have been put in place to install a sustainable heating system, new electrics and audio system as well as catering and toilet facilities to enable the church to expand the Music on the Levels concerts and also allow the community to use the area for meetings and coffee mornings.

The Battle of Sedgemoor Exhibition and Visitor Centre will also be updated and expanded.

Work on the church’s redevelopments will start in autumn 2015 and the PCC are hoping the project will be complete by early 2016.