NINE of Oxfordshire’s treasured historic churches are thanking the Lord after winning £900,000 for repairs between them.

St Mary’s Church in Chalgrove was awarded £544,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to preserve its medieval wall paintings.

The other eight are beneficiaries of Chancellor George Osborne’s Roof Repair Fund, originally announced as £15m in December but increased to £45m in this year’s Budget.

They will get £368,200 between them for “urgent” roof repairs.

St Nicholas Church in Britwell Salome was told by a CofE architectural inspector in November that it was “only a matter of time” before its entire Victorian roof just fell off.

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Church warden Dr Sue Granger said there was widespread corrosion in the original 19th century nails holding in the roof’s red clay tiles above the nave and chancel.

She said: “The inspector said it was only a matter of time before the tiles went completely and the whole roof just slipped off. We panicked slightly and thought ‘what can we do’?”

Luckily, within days, the Chancellor had announced his Listed Places of Worship: Roof Repair Fund and invited applications.

Dr Granger, who lives in the village with her husband, said she and a small team from the church rushed through their application to get it in by the January deadline.

They got an estimate and were told the full cost of repairing the roof would be about £64,000.

The Grade II-listed church had just over £20,000 which it could put towards it, so parishioners asked the Government for £43,200. And on Thursday they found out that is exactly what they had got.

Dr Granger said: “We have been extremely fortunate – this will make life immeasurably easier.”

St Nicholas’s rector, the Rev Christopher Evans, said: “This is very good news – we’re delighted.”

Work to restore the wall paintings at St Mary’s in Chalgrove will begin on June 1.

Its vicar, the Rev Canon Ian Cohen, said: “We are delighted and excited that we should have had this affirmation of our plans from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“This will be a great thing for our village and for the nation.”