Farmers Patrick and Christine Gale have donated land to their village church so it can extend the graveyard.

The land at Appleford, near Abingdon, was consecrated on Sunday last week by the Bishop of Reading, Andrew Proud.

The Rev Helen Kendrick said: “I had never attended a consecration before. It ensures that this is a Christian burial ground in perpetuity.”

The Appleford church has a congregation of between six and nine each Sunday.

Church treasurer Ian Cook said: “Appleford is a tiny village – only 140 houses. It has lost its shops and pub, but has been successful in holding on to its church.

“There has been a church on this spot since Saxon times, and the graveyard is now almost full. An extension was badly needed.”

His wife Lyn added: “It’s important to extend our thanks to Patrick and Christine, without whom the churchyard extension would not have been possible.”

After a breakfast in the church with villagers and children, Bishop Andrew performed the ancient service of consecration in the churchyard.

Mr Cook added: “This service is needed only very rarely nowadays, and the wording has changed little from the late Middle Ages.”