THE history of a landmark church will be explored in a new heritage project funded by the National Lottery which will also help to restore a landmark to its former glory.

The Bolton News reported recently that St James the Great Church, Daisy Hill has been awarded £70,500 from the Heritage Grant fund to repair the striking 85ft bell turret, which was in danger of being lost forever ­— placing the beautiful Grade II* listed building on Historic England's at risk register.

But as well as repairing damage caused by vegetation growth to the 85ft Bell Turret which has been the landmark of Daisy Hill for almost 140 years, the money will fund an exciting project exploring the church and its role in the community in the future.

The church has a fascinating history, and today is still very much a focal point for the community ­— more so given there is no community centre in the area.

Bob Latham, member of the Parochial Church Council and project leader, said: "This work will also enabling us to gain more understanding of the construction of this unique Grade 11* listed building placed on the At Risk Register by Historic England.

"Other aspects of the project involve researching the history of the church, local area and the Haddock Family who's wealth funded the building of first a school and then a church in Daisy Hill and who’s gifts were honoured in 1889 when funds were raised to install a 'splendid' stained glass east window made by the company Morris & Co. founded by William Morris and fellow Pre-Raphaelite artists.Education was as important to our benefactors as it is to the current congregation who, supported through The National Lottery Heritage Fund, will deliver projects, spreading knowledge and understanding to the young people of Daisy hill and the wider community, of the significance of the grade 11* listed building that is St James the Great, Daisy Hill and its origins."

The school and church benefactors were two sisters Alice Makant née Haddock and Margaret Haddock who gave the money to build the first school in 1840, the new school in 1870/71

followed by the church in 1879/81.

The two sisters inherited the local corn mill and it was this inheritance that financed their philanthropic projects.

The two sisters lived in Vale House, the mill house, and it is said that the church bell-turret was built so high so that the sisters could see it from Vale House.

This explains such a large church for what was then a very small village, because it had to be in proportion with its bell-turret.

The PCC rightly proud of the church's history celebrates its during the annual Heritage Open Days, providing exploration and discovery visits for local schools.

Vice-Chair of the PCC Glenys Latham said: "The immediate risk to the Bell Turret has been an absolute priority and with the support of the National Lottery work can commence in the near future.

"The PCC are very aware of the lack of local facilities, Daisy Hill does not now have a community centre for example, so with the assistance of the church architect and Historic England they can now focus on exploring ways in which the building can serve the community in addition to being a place for worship. The Churchwardens and PCC hope that through the heritage projects funded by the National Lottery Grant they can show the community what they could lose and the possible multifaceted resource St James’ could be for those who live in the parish and beyond."