A STALYBRIDGE church has closed its doors for safety reasons.
It comes after a piece of masonry from the ceiling inside St Peter’s RC Church crashed to the floor.
As a result, services have been transferred to its parish hall for the foreseeable future.
Father Philip Atkinson explained the masonry, described as an ornamental bust and the size of a small Easter, fell during the night.
He said: “Though the masonry came down in an area where nobody goes, people’s safety comes first.
“That is why we immediately decided to close the church until the whole of the inside roof is checked out.”
Father Philip added it came as a surprise as in the early 1990s extensive repair work was carried out to the roof inside the church.
“It is a standard thing in older churches for things like this to happen,” he added.
Father Philip explained that preliminary checks have taken place, adding scaffolding will be erected inside the church in the new year for a detailed inspection to take place.“Once builders have had a really good look, we will know if it is straightforward or more involved,” he said.
Father Philip added the preliminary inspection will be costly as scaffolding will have to be erected, the altar boxed off to ensure it is not damaged and a covering laid to protect the floor.
The diocese will pay for a substantial amount of the work according to Father Philip.
He added St Peter’s will be out of action for the festive period, one of its busiest times of the year.
In the meantime services have been moved to the adjoining parish hall.
“It hasn’t been too great an upheaval and parishioners have remarked how nice, warm and cosy it is in the parish hall,” he said.