RESTORATION project: Peter Bates with Hilgay Feoffee Charity clerk Tony Hall outside the lychgate Picture: Paul Tibbs

AN appeal has been launched to raise around £12,000 to restore an ancient lychgate.

Installed in 1880, one of the oak and brick-built gates at Hilgay church is in danger of collapse and needs urgent repair.

Church warden Peter Bates said the gate, at the school end of a line of 120 lime trees, has been damaged by the elements.

“We have had to get a company with scaffolding and jacks to hold it up or we will lose it. It is a feature of the village we never want to lose. We hope to get it back to its former glory,” said Mr Bates.

When repair work started this week, Mr Bates said an unexpected cost of around £1,700 was added with the discovery of a broken wall.

Future repair work will also include new gates, fencing and a roof.

The total cost has been estimated at £12,000 and the first stage of the work – to make the gate safe and install timbers – is likely to cost around £4,200.

Mr Bates said there has been a pledge from Hilgay Feoffee Charity, but members of the parochial church council hope other organisations, business and individuals will help. “We are hoping some organisations will come forward and say they will help us,” said Mr Bates, who can be contacted on 01366 387988.

The organisers of a coffee morning have pledged to make a donation from their event on Thursday, May 4 which will include cakes and a book stall at Stocks Hill  from 10am to noon.