A HISTORIC church which was recorded in the Domesday Book has had to suspend its urgent roof repair work - after a colony of bats took up residency in its collapsing eaves.

All Saints’ Church in Cawthorne, which is of Saxon origin, has faced a series of complications over the last year after its roof tiles began to fall off.

While raising money and beginning the process of fixing the issue however, building surveyors discovered a maternity bat colony living within the roof that brought work to a sudden halt.

Canon Keith Farrow, vicar of the church, told the Chronicle: “The church doesn’t have traditional slate roof tiles, they’re actually made from York stone.

“They’re held in place by these pegs that are beginning to fade, so we’ve had a hole appear in the north side of the church.

“It was estimated to cost £80,000 to fix, so we’ve been continually fundraising, trying to get it all together.

“When we discovered the bats all the work had to stop - I’m reluctant to call it a bat ‘problem’ though, because it’s really not.

“They’re a protected species so I want to seize the opportunity to learn and to help out.

“Every situation is a new chance to learn.”

Work on the roof has been delayed up until the middle of next year, as conservation experts study the situation to come up with a plan.

In the meantime, the church’s roof will be temporarily patched up, allowing services to continue through winter.

Canon Farrow added: “We’ve employed bat experts to work with us and make sure everything is dealt with safely and correctly.

“Ideally, we and the bats will learn to live in harmony - plus being a vicar with bats flying around me does make me a bit like Batman.

“We’re not forgetting about the roof though - this is a Grade I-listed, beautiful building and we’ve got a responsibility to protect it.”

Seeing the extra time available as a further opportunity to fundraise for repairs, Canon Farrow and his colleagues have started a ‘sponsor a tile’ scheme.

With around 2,000 tiles to be replaced or repositioned, the congregation’s asking for the public to sponsor individual tiles, whether for loved ones, as a celebration or for their own personal reasons, with everyone who sponsors getting to record a message in a memorial book.

“It was actually inspired by a similar activity at York Minster when I was younger,” Canon Farrow said.

“When I was 14 you could buy one minute of York Minster - it was only 50p but I loved the idea that I was protecting the minster for an extra minute.

“Like it did with me, I hope people’s imaginations will be gripped.

“Over the years this church has brought joy, tears and changed people’s lives - it’s a special place and I appreciate people’s continued support.”

For further information on sponsoring a tile, or to help out with church fundraising, people can get in contact with the church through the email: beneficewestbarnsley@hotmail.com.