A MAJOR Project at a Craven church which combines restoration of its stained glass windows with involving the community in its heritage has received a boost from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

‘Looking Both Ways - for the Church and Community’ at St Mary’s Church, Embsay-with-Eastby, has received a grant of £21,800 from the fund, and the restoration work is set to start early next year.

Two major windows in the 163-year-old church are to be restored as part of the project at a total cost of around £47,000, to which many other charitable donations have also contributed.

St Mary’s vicar, the Rev Louise Taylor-Kenyon, welcomed the news, and said: “We are really excited by this project and the major grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund which will make it possible. St Mary’s was built 163 years ago and today plays an active part in the lives of the villages. There are two major stained-glass windows, the most significant being at the east end of the church.

“This was the work of Jean-Baptiste Capronnier who lived in Belgium between 1814 and 1891.

“His work is highly regarded and can be found in churches throughout Europe. His peak of fame came at the 1855 Paris Exhibition where he won the only medal to be given for glass-painting. The St Mary’s window was created in that period of his work. The Capronnier window and several others in the church have endured a century and a half of Yorkshire weather and are entitled to some skilled attention to ensure that they continue to be enjoyed by future generations.”

The project will also have a strong community element, she said, with local historians researching and producing a publication about the windows and the stories behind them.

Village schoolchildren will also help by producing artwork to decorate the boarded-up window spaces while the glass is away being worked on by specialists.

Also planned are separate workshops for groups of children and adults at which these specialist restorers will explain and demonstrate what goes into making a stained-glass window.

David Renwick, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund, Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “St Mary’s Church is a fantastic building with an interesting history.

“This project will not only conserve the historic stained glass windows, but also provide a range of activities for the local community and schools to learn about how stained glass windows are made, and the fascinating stories they tell, all thanks to National Lottery players.”

Though the current church was built in 1853, it has its roots in a monastery founded in the parish in 1120. The current church is built on the site of the original monastery.