A QUAINT little church in Shottle that was saved by local residents is celebrating its 150th birthday.
St Lawrence Church, which is on Lambhouse Lane in the tiny village, almost succumbed to closure and sale in the 1990s.
Dwindling congregation numbers fell to a mere handful, while years of neglect meant that thousands of pounds were needed to repair the church.
However, a group of local supporters formed The Friends of Shottle Church to try to save the historic building.
Mark Berresford, of the Friends group, said: “The aim was to raise sufficient money to save the church from what looked like its inevitable fate.
“The Church of England was going to close it down but residents made sure it did not happen.
“The vigour and enthusiasm in fundraising and managing the restoration was astonishing.”
The church and its land was a gift from the 6th Duke of Devonshire. Completed in 1861, it was originally a Mission Church, built to serve the spiritual needs of the farming families of the Shottle district, who would otherwise have had to travel to either Turnditch or Idridgehay.
Back then, the population of Shottle was much higher than it is now and the church was regularly filled to capacity.
However, mechanisation and changes to farming practice throughout the 20th century saw Shottle’s population decline. By the 1990s the congregation had virtually disappeared.
But after the Friends started their project, the restoration work continued throughout this century and is ongoing today.
Mark said: “It is a vibrant little church now and it has four or five services a year. It is more a social thing nowadays.”
The highlight of the 150th anniversary celebrations was a spectacular three-day flower festival. The Bishop of Repton also led an anniversary communion service on Sunday, July 11.