A NEW group has been set up to promote the history of a Grade II-listed church in Barnsley town centre.

The Friends of Barnsley St Mary group at St Mary’s, on Church Street, has been formed in order to increase the amount of open days, talks and guided tours.

The original building at St Mary’s is believed to date back to 1090 but the existing church, built in 1822, retains a tower constructed in 1380 and it’s this rich history members want to tell people about.

The group’s first get together will take place at the church on January 17 from noon until 1pm.

Rev Canon Stephen Race said: “We welcome volunteers with a wide range of skills, experience and recollections, whether you have personal or family connections to St Mary’s, you are a new visitor who would like to learn more about our ancient church or you are passionate about Barnsley’s heritage.

“We want to build on the work of the Barnsley Pals ‘colours project’ co-ordinated by Jane Ainsworth to produce guidebooks covering all aspects of the building and churchyard, to discover more about individuals named on the memorials, stained glass windows and headstones and to find any relations.

“We feel that St Mary’s deserves to be promoted as one of Barnsley’s most important tourist destinations and this will involve open days, talks and guided tours, which will need support with greeting visitors and serving refreshments.”

Joining forms can be obtained from Rev Canon Race at St Mary’s Church or Jane Ainsworth at janemaa@hotmail.co.uk.