A Chorley church will be closed for the rest of the year as a major restoration project gets underway to prevent it from sinking.
The foundations in the north west corner of the Napoleonic St George’s Church have dropped by about five feet, leaving the floor uneven and the font rocking.
It means that church leaders are rerouting members and visitors to the church hall behind the Grade two listed building in St George’s Street for its weekly services.
Meanwhile specialist contractors will take out the pews all along the north side of the church to install more support for the building, which will celebrate its 200th anniversary in 2025.
Priest in Charge, Father David Arnold said: “I hope that we, at St George’s, can use this opportunity to fulfil our call to make Christ known, by inviting others to join us for worship, where they can get to know St George’s community in a slightly different setting.”
The late Vicar of St George’s Church Rev Tim Wilby, who died aged 57 following a stroke in December last year, first noticed that the floor was uneven when he was giving a baptism.
Brian Addison, 70, a church warden, said: “My granddaughter was the last one to be baptised here.
“Tim said that the baptismal font was rocking.”
Parishioners helped to move chairs from the church, round the back of the building into the church hall.
They will meet there as of this coming Sunday - May 7 for their weekly 8am and 10am services and a weekly 10am Wednesday service.
The hope is that the congregation will be able to return to the church building in time for Christmas.
But before work gets underway, crucial work needs to be done to protect the multimillion pound organ.
Gordan Blackledge, organist and choir master, said: “We have to protect it against dust which could be quite detrimental.”
Heritage Lottery Fund has covered the costs of two thirds of the work with donations from members of the congregation and fundraising covering the rest of the work.
St George’s was consecrated in 1825, a masterpiece designed by a Quaker architect called Thomas Rickman.
It was paid for by the revenue collected from the French following the Napoleonic wars.