A WEST Somerset village church is to have a reredos hung behind its altar for possibly the first time in more than 300 years.

St Petrock’s Church, in Timberscombe, was last recorded as having a reredos, or wall hanging/screen, in the early 1720s.

It was part of a bequest in the will of Richard Elsworth, of Bickham Manor, but there are no records of what then happened to it.

Now, a group of more than 20 villagers has made a replacement which will be officially installed in the chancel during a special service on June 2 dedicated to St Petrock.

Churchwarden Marion Jeffrey said: “It is a source of pride to the village that once again this little church can boast its own splendid decoration.”

The idea of a village-created wall hanging for the Grade 1 listed church was mooted by new resident Adele Wealleans last November when she attended a Warm Welcome morning in the church to meet her new village community.

The annual feast day of St Petrock around the first weekend in June became the target to complete the work.

Ms Jeffrey said: “It has been a tremendous collaboration in the community to agree on the format and style, and the division of the hanging into squares where people could create their own tribute to any aspect they chose of Timberscombe life, working to a scheme that shows a range of talent and artistic interest which will have maximum visual impact.”

The wall hanging will be available to view in the church 24 hours earlier, on Saturday, June 1, between 11 am and 4 pm, when project volunteers will be on hand to highlight items of special interest and answer questions.

Local farmer and photographer Michael Reed will also present an exhibition of his photography in the church on the same day, and a celebratory barbecue will be held in the adjacent church field between 1pm and 3pm.

Ms Jeffrey said: “Any monies raised from this event will go toward keeping the church open, safe, and accessible every day for all who wish to visit it.”