A CHURCH is considering selling a valuable, historic prayerbook described as its 'crown jewel' to fund vital refurbishment work.
The 1710-12 Book of Common Prayer is one of just six copies in the world. But Reverend Kevin McGarahan says it may have to be sold along with the church silver to enable St Mary's Church, in Brentmead Gardens, West Twyford to reopen.
He said: "It's the jewel in the crown of a church which has been going since 1181; it's a national as well as a local treasure."
The book contains prayers for the safety of the king and the government following the gunpowder plot in 1605. Their failure to blow up King James I and most of the Protestant aristocracy in the Houses of Parliament was commemorated across the country yesterday. Similar prayers are said after terrorist acts to this day.
Only two other copies of the historic book are held in Britain, one at the British Library, central London, and the other at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.
It is being valued and held in a safe in Lambeth Place's library but if it is not sold, Rev McGarahan hopes to display it to the public during the church's reopening and at other special occasions.
He hopes St Mary's will be open in time for Easter but about £70,000 needs to be raised before this can happen.
The church's 17th-Century chapel and its 1950s extension has been in a poor state of repair for years and was forced to close in 1995 because of structural problems.
The congregation used to meet in the church hall next door but that was sold last year to help pay for the repairs and they are now having to meet in a function room nearby.
Rev McGarahan added: "We're determined to meet our funding targets through other ways. About £6,500 has been raised since our campaign was mentioned in the Gazette last month so that's really encouraging.
"I want to say a big thank you to everybody who has helped out and to urge people to keep contributing, no matter how big or small the donations."
If you can help call Rev McGarahan on 020 8838 2542 or send donations to the parish treasurer at 10 Hanger Court, Ealing, W5 3ER.