A CHURCH that has been at the heart of Woodstock’s community for more than 1,000 years is to be transformed as part of a £600,000 renovation programme.

St Mary Magdalene Church is undergoing a total refurbishment following a huge fundraising campaign.

The works will involve installing new heating, electric and lighting. A new servery, toilets and sound system will be put in the building while the pews will be replaced by a set of new chairs.

Nearby World Heritage Site Blenheim Palace and the Duke of Marlborough are supporting the project with a charitable donation which has enabled the renovations to get under way on time.

Reverend Canon Adrian Daffern said: “The reordering of St Mary Magdalene’s is going to not only transform the life of our church, but the life of our town.

“The whole community will benefit from a much-loved building which is open, accessible, and available to all, whether they are members of the Christian family in Woodstock, or not.

“We’re so grateful to His Grace and his staff at Blenheim for their generous support. Without them, we could not have achieved our goals in the timeframe we’d hoped.”

On top of the other work, the church will also be given a complete redecoration, including cleaning and sealing the floors and cleaning the stained glass windows.

The work, which began at the end of May and is expected to be completed by December, is being carried out by architects JBKS of Thame and the contractor is Edgar Taylor of Buckingham, both specialists in church work.

The donation is part of Blenheim Palace’s 10-year programme, in which they aim to double their charitable impact on the local community.

Duke of Marlborough Jamie Blandford said: “I am delighted to see such an ambitious project taking place at the church which has played such an important role in our family history.

“Everyone involved in the project should be congratulated for their vision and commitment. We are proud to be able to support them to complete this extraordinary transformation.”

As well as St Mary Magdalene’s, Blenheim Palace is also helping to design and create a new community garden at St Hughes in Woodstock as part of a larger fundraising project.

It was last month when the palace unveiled its 10 year plan, which includes doubling its charitable contributions in the area. Other commitments including training 100 apprentices and housing 300 families in affordable housing.